The are over 46 million adults age 65 or older living in the United States and that number is expected to grow to over 90 million by the year 2030 which means that 1 out of every 5 Americans will be over the age of 65. There are over 1.5 million Americans currently living in a nursing or assisted living facility and that number will only increase as the country quickly ages.
Important Facts About Falls
According to CDC.gov: Each year, millions of people age 65 and older—fall. In fact, more than one out of four older people fall each year, Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.
Falls Are Serious and Costly
- One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury
- Each year, 3 million older people are treated in emergency rooms for fall injuries
- Over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture
- Each year at least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures
- More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries
- In 2015, the total medical costs for falls totaled more than $50 billion. Medicare and Medicaid shouldered 75% of these costs.
What Can Be Done To Prevent Falls?
One of the most often over looked causes of falls or injury to older people is poor lighting. The older we get the more we need better light to not only avoid falls and injuries, but to be able to read prescriptions or work on a crossword puzzle. One of the most important things we can do to prevent injuries is to provide adequate lighting for the people who need it the most, not only for their safety but for their overall enjoyment and quality of life. Having enough light is very important but equally important is using the right type of lighting.
The Effects Of Light Therapy On Senior Citizens
Many recent studies have been done on the effects that lighting can have on our health and happiness. Most people are aware of the positive effects bright white light can have on our happiness particularly during the long dark winters many of us have to endure, but do you know of the negative effects these same lights can have when used during night time hours? According to 2016 study done by the American Medical Association, LED lights emit light from the short-wave, high-energy blue and violet end of the visible light spectrum. This light range controls our sleep cycle and correct exposure is important to maintain our circadian rhythm. Studies also reveal that light emitted by LED’s can cause retinal changes, if there is high exposure for even a short period of time. Long term exposure of the retina and lens to blue peaks from LED’s can increase the risk of cataract and age-related macular degeneration. Studies also show the importance of light to the natural cycle of sleeping and waking. Too much of this type of light during nighttime hours can seriously disrupt our sleep patterns while exposure to this type of light during the day can help support a normal sleep-wake cycle.
Ways To Protect Your Residents And staff
While these studies are alarming, the research is still in the very early stages and a lot of the studies have had very small sample sizes or were just considered inconclusive. Still the science does seem to be there and it is clear that more research needs to be conducted. There are ways to protect your residents as well as your staff now. One of the best ways to do that is to go with LED tunable or selectable lighting that will allow you to choose the color temperature and on some products the wattage can also be changed to effect the brightness or intensity of the light output.