Lighting in Nursing Homes: the Unmet Need


Eunice Noell-Waggoner, Center of Design for an Aging Society. Presented at the CIE Symposium and published in the Proceedings CIEx035: 2006 Proceedings of the 2nd CIE Expert Symposium on Lighting and Health, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Review by Scott Schuetter, Energy Center of Wisconsin: 

Noell-Waggoner describes the need for improved lighting and more daylighting in nursing homes. Age-related changes to the eye tend to decrease the amount of light that reaches the retinue. This leads to higher instances of accidents and disrupted circadian rhythms. The ANSI/IESNA (Recommended Practice) RP-28-2001 Lighting for the Visual Environment for Senior Living outlines a series of recommendations for improving lighting in senior living facilities. However, there are no federal standards and few rigorous state standards for lighting in these building types. Recent studies have shown that light levels in nursing homes do not meet their residents' needs, with 45% of hallways, 17% of activity areas and 51% of resident rooms having inadequate light levels.

Increased daylight provides higher light levels and reinforces the circadian rhythm of nursing home residents. It also promotes vitamin D synthesis, which very important for the older generation. Providing higher access to daylight has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve sleep patterns, so long as glare is kept to a minimum.