What a great way to possibly improve one's quality of life-and an easy one, too. Bright lights! Carol Bradley Bursack's blog about the Dutch study re: bright lights and melatonin hit a nerve with me today. Having suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder for almost forty years (back when it was hardly even being talked about), I have known about the effect bright light has on mood. It had not occurred to me that I might use the same technique for my dementia, and yet it makes sense.
With dementia often comes depression. Though I take medication to help combat the depression and improve concentration, it certainly will only help to add increased lighting to my environment all year ‘round, not just during the darker months. I know that for myself, I need lots of light ALL the time to keep me alert. Extra light helps me stay active. I'm like a bear in hibernation once the light gets low. My eyes feel starved. I can't imagine how awful it would be on me to live in either of the polar regions where they experience months of darkness. And, like a bear, I get grouchy when there is less light. My whole mood changes with bright lights. I flit around like a butterfly drawn to nectar!
In addition to the increased indoor lighting, though, I have found that I am lacking natural sunlight... My Vitamin D level is low even though I take a Vit. D supplement. My body is not absorbing it. It was suggested that I take the supplement in liquid form-which I may do, after I try my newest idea. Having found information on the internet, it seems that our bodies need as little as 5-10 minutes of direct sunlight (between the hours of 11 A.M. and 1 P.M.) three days a week to get the recommended amount of Vitamin D as provided by the sun. My new plan is to sit in the sun 5 days a week for 10-15 minutes. I want to do this for the next couple of months before getting my blood tested again. I am hoping that this will solve my lack of Vitamin D problem. At the same time, it should do wonders for my dementia and depression.
Wow. Who would'a thunk that there could be such an easy answer? I know it isn't a cure-all, and I don't expect it to be.
Question for thought: What if nursing homes and other sites giving care to dementia and Alzheimer's patients-and to those with depression-would institute plans for increased lighting, as well as daily jaunts outside for patients to sit in the sun (or a sunroom), isn't it a possibility that patients' psychological and physical well-being might improve? And, mightn't the need for continuous caregiving and caregiver attention be lessened to some degree? Isn't it a possibility that the entire atmosphere of the facility might improve? (Let's not forget that the caregivers need this "sun" time, too!)
With all this talk about bright lights, I've noticed something... Being "en-LIGHT-ened" has put a spark in my day already!
(P.S. I'll work on the melatonin part of the study at a later time!)