When the days grow shorter and the nights longer, some seniors may experience a range of emotional and physical challenges. As we step into November, these seasonal changes can bring about sadness, sleep disturbances, depression and feelings of isolation.
At WindsorMeade, we're always looking at ways to help residents navigate and overcome such challenges so that they get the best Independent Living experience and live life to the fullest. In this article, we explore the remarkable benefits of light therapy and how it can improve overall well-being.
Light therapy, also known as phototherapy or bright light therapy, involves the use of artificial light to simulate natural sunlight. Exposure to sunlight increases the release of a hormone called serotonin in the brain. Serotonin makes you feel happier, calm and focused. Studies have shown that the same response can be created with light therapy and that it can be very beneficial for seniors. Let's take a look at those benefits in more detail.
Light therapy has a significant impact on mood. By stimulating the production of serotonin, light therapy helps you experience improved mood and reduced feelings of sadness. This boost in positivity and happiness can lead to a more emotionally stable and fulfilling life.
Decreased energy levels and fatigue are common challenges for many seniors, especially those who may not have a lot of exposure to natural sunlight. Light therapy helps by boosting energy and reducing lethargy. By mimicking the energizing effects of natural sunlight, this noninvasive treatment helps promote vitality and alertness and can be used year-round as a daily therapy.
Light therapy can also have a big impact on cognitive function, helping to improve attention, memory and problem-solving skills. Adequate exposure to bright light may help you maintain mental clarity and improve cognitive task performance.
If you struggle to fall asleep or wake up at regular intervals during the night, disruptions in your circadian rhythms may be the cause. Light therapy can help by regulating these rhythms, making it easier for you to fall asleep at night, stay asleep and wake feeling refreshed in the morning.
Exposure to bright light stimulates the production of cortisol, a hormone that promotes wakefulness and alertness. Seniors incorporating light therapy into their daily routines often report increased alertness and productivity throughout the day. This boost in daytime energy can lead to more active and engaged lives.
One of the biggest advantages of light therapy is that it's noninvasive and requires no medication. This reduces the risk of potential side effects or complications, making it a safe option if you're looking to improve your well-being.
It might surprise you to know that light therapy devices are readily available and easy to use. You don't have to go to the hospital or visit your physician's office. This therapy can be seamlessly integrated into your daily routine and is especially effective when used at the start of the day. If you can't get outside to benefit from sunlight, light therapy can give you the same beneficial effects of the sun in the comfort of our community.
Light therapy can also help with several conditions that often manifest or worsen as the seasons change, giving a glimmer of hope and relief to those affected. These disorders include seasonal affective disorder, insomnia, depression and dementia. By harnessing the power of artificial light, light therapy can help enhance the quality of life if you're impacted by these conditions during this particularly challenging time of the year.
Since the 1990s, bright light therapy has provided hope for those struggling with SAD, often referred to as "winter depression" or "seasonal depression." If your mood worsens when winter rolls around, you could be one of the millions of adults in America who suffer from this condition. Exposure to light therapy helps regulate mood, reduce symptoms of depression and alleviate the specific symptoms associated with SAD.
Many seniors struggle with insomnia, a condition that disrupts sleep patterns and overall well-being. Bright light therapy helps improve this condition by regulating circadian rhythms, the body's internal clock that controls sleep-wake cycles. Exposure to bright light during specific times of the day, usually in the morning, helps reset your internal clock, making it easier for you to fall asleep at night and wake up at appropriate times.
Depression can affect people of all ages, including seniors, and can lead to decreased quality of life and social isolation. Because light therapy stimulates serotonin production, it can help improve these symptoms and regulate mood.
Dementia is a complex condition that affects memory, cognition and behavior in seniors. Though the symptoms of dementia are persistent, bright light therapy can help treat depression and agitation in people with the condition and perfectly complement Memory Care services. Regular exposure helps improve mood and reduce the restlessness that's often common with dementia.
If you're experiencing the challenges associated with SAD, insomnia, depression or dementia, light therapy may be a potential source of relief. It can also be beneficial if mobility issues limit your ability to get outdoors regularly.
Seeking guidance from a healthcare professional in the first instance is an essential part of the journey toward improved well-being. They can offer invaluable insights and recommendations tailored to your specific needs and circumstances.
While light therapy may hold the key to brighter days for those facing seasonal challenges, social connections and emotional well-being are equally important. At WindsorMeade, we offer comprehensive programs that support overall health and an active and fulfilled lifestyle. Call us today at 757 941 3615 to find out more and to arrange to see the community.
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