Researchers are shedding some new light on treatments to potentially impact Alzheimer’s disease: light therapy. The effects of light are only just beginning to be tapped, and already showing some interesting and promising results.
For example, MIT researchers are testing a type of flickering light therapy, in which the visual cortex of mice is showing a temporary reduction of beta amyloid plaques. And while there’s no indication yet on how this might correlate to human studies, it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.
Another study with extremely positive results in seniors with Alzheimer’s is exposure to light with a blueish tint, which is believed to help regulate the body’s circadian rhythm – resulting in improved sleeping patterns. Geriatric psychiatrist Dr. Guerman Ermolenko and Mariana Figueiro, of the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in NY, tested the effects on two patients with Alzheimer’s who were unable to sleep through the night by exposing them to blue light during the day. In both cases, the seniors were once again able to sleep through the night.
Interestingly, the reasoning behind these results stems from the theory that the blue light mimics the blue sky, nudging our circadian rhythm to be in wake-up mode, and that it may also increase our levels of melatonin during the evening – resulting in more wakefulness during the daytime and a more restful night’s sleep.
One word of caution: some Alzheimer’s patients have become over-stimulated by exposure to blue light. It’s important to carefully monitor seniors’ reactions, and increase yellow light accordingly if negative effects are noticed.
At North River Home Care, we’re helping those with Alzheimer’s, and the families who care for them, with a variety of personalized services to improve quality of life. Our specially trained, patient and compassionate caregivers offer family the opportunity to take a much needed break, knowing their senior loved one is well cared for. We work hard to make sure seniors are safe and living life to their fullest potential at all times. Contact us at (781) 659-1366 to learn more.