Bright Light Therapy and Dementia in Elderly People
✤ Bright light therapy is a very popular method of therapy that has a lot of health benefits. Let’s take a look at its relationship with dementia, especially for the elderly people.
Dementia is an overarching term that is used to describe conditions that lead to such things as memory loss, decline in cognitive ability and also reasoning that is impaired. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Alzheimer’s makes up about 60 to 80 percent of about all cases of dementia.
What are the symptoms of dementia in the elderly?
You may be wondering what exactly dementia is. Well, first of all, dementia is not just one single condition or illness, but it is an illness that is defined by memory loss and also the loss of other cognitive functions.
People who suffer from this illness may suffer from short-term memory issues, they will also have a hard time in keeping track of where their belongings are exactly. Other issues that people with dementia face is in preparing meals, failing to remember dates and appointments, paying the bills on time and also traveling. One thing that has to be mentioned here is that the condition is normally progressive. This basically means that even though the symptoms will start off as being mild, it will generally worsen and will become much more apparent as time goes by.
Although there happens to be a lot of different types of dementia, AD is by far the most common. The hallmarks of AD are the strands of the protein tau that are twisted and also when there is a deposit of protein fragments named beta-amyloid within the brain. People who suffer from AD may also have nerve cell damage which can even lead to death.
Dementia is normally diagnosed when there two or more mental capacities are affected. These include skills with language, memory, attention, spatial skills, etc.
What exactly happens when someone has dementia?
There are many forms of dementia and there is a different cause behind each of them. If you take, for example, Korsakoff’s syndrome, this form of dementia stems from the effects that are brought on by alcohol use. There are also some types of dementia whose cause remains unknown and then there are also others which progress a lot more rapidly.
By far, the most common type, AD, is said to occur when there is a formation of tangles and plaques within the brain cells. As a result of this, the nerve cells in the brain get damaged or die. The most common issues and symptoms of AD include memory loss, not recalling names and places or even remembering appointments, drastic swings in mood, agitation and also social withdrawal. The last one, social withdrawal, happens because there is a loss of confidence and/or there are problems with communication.
The blood vessels that are responsible for delivering blood to the brain becomes damaged when the dementia is of the vascular or multi-infarct type of dementia. As a result of this, many brain cells simply die because the body is not being able to provide the cells with the proper amount of oxygen and nutrients it needs to function and to survive.
Contrary to the previous one, dementia that is of the kind with Lewy bodies is normally characterized with the formation of spherical protein deposits that are very small in the nerve cells. What this does is that it interrupts the chemical messengers that are exchanged including acetylcholine and also dopamine.
How does light therapy work for dementia?
Bright Light Therapy is a type of therapy that has been proven to be very effective in treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which is a type of depression. It also has been made use of in the treatment of many other mental health issues. These issues and problems include bipolar disorder, sleep disorder, chronic depressive disorder, insomnia and also disturbance in behavior in organic dementia.
The way it works is by emitting light that is supposed to mimic natural outdoor light. These devices which are used for the purposes of light therapy are usually able to provide light that is of 10,000 lux of intensity.
Benefits for Dementia
This is an extremely interesting and exciting new form of therapy that holds a lot of potential for many health issues that people face. In fact, it is known to be a promising new treatment that has the very real potential to help people who suffer from dementia. It is generally thought that light therapy affects the chemicals in the brain that is related to both mood and also sleep.
People who suffer from dementia have problems with sleep in a lot of the cases. The part of the brain that is responsible for the sleep-wake cycle is called the suprachiasmatic nucleus. In people who suffer from dementia, this part of the brain can get damaged and this usually results in sleep disorders. Bright light therapy can help these people who suffer from sleep issues by normalizing the pattern of sleeping and waking up.
There was a study that reported that disturbances in sleep are very common in people who are suffering from dementia and more particularly AD or other related dementia. What this does to them is to create a lot of problems with maintaining functioning during the day. This eventually takes a toll on the quality of life of both the patients and also the people who care for them, the caregivers.
Bright light therapy has also shown promise in addressing aggressive behavior in patients with ADRD. It is also worth noting here that this type of therapy, bright light therapy, is most helpful for patients with Alzheimer’s that is mild or moderate. Giving the patient a light therapy session in the morning can really help them deal with their sleep issues. In this way, the therapy can really bring a balance to the circadian rhythm of the body and hence reduce the disruption of the sleep-wake cycle.