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Improved indoor lighting improved healthy aging at home – an intervention study in 77-year-old Norwegians

Authors Falkenberg HK, Kvikstad TM, Eilertsen G

Received 18 December 2018

Accepted for publication 29 March 2019

Published 2 May 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 315—324


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Helle K Falkenberg,1 Tor Martin Kvikstad,2 Grethe Eilertsen3

1National Centre for Optics, Vision and Eye Care, Department of Optometry, Radiography and Lighting Design, University of South-Eastern Norway, Kongsberg, Norway; 2Department of Business, Strategy and Political Sciences, University of South-Eastern Norway, Kongsberg, Norway; 3USN Eldreforsk Research Group, Department of Nursing- and Health Science, University of South-Eastern Norway, Kongsberg, Norway

Introduction: Healthy aging and good quality of life is important to allow older people to live at home. Lighting is a significant environmental attribute promoting visual, physical, and mental health. Due to normal visual age changes, older people need more light, but improving indoor lighting levels receives little attention.
Objective: To investigate the impact of improved home lighting on abilities to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) and quality of life in healthy older people.
Methods: Sixty healthy 77 years old living at home participated during the 4-month dark winter period. In the intervention group (IG, n=30), the living room lighting was optimized by providing lamps and a basic control system with three preset levels (normal, medium, low). Participants chose the light level and kept a diary. No change was implemented for the control group (CG, n=30). A questionnaire measured self-reported visual and general health and ability to perform ADL in regards to lighting before and after the intervention in both groups.
Results: In the IG, lighting levels significantly improved self-assessed lighting levels, abilities to perform ADLs, and read and write in the living room (all p<0.03). In the CG the only change was a deterioration in performing ADLs (p<0.05). The difference in change was significant between the IG and CG (all p<0.02). “Normal” lighting was the preferred level and increased comfort and well-being. The IG also resumed visually demanding tasks, and acknowledged that avoiding these tasks were mainly due to poor lighting.
Conclusions: Good vision is essential in promoting healthy aging at home and require adequate lighting. This can easily be achieved using a basic light system. Adopting to higher lighting levels evolves quickly. Our results suggest that improved quality of light could improve quality of life, and lighting should be included as a factor promoting healthy aging at home.

Keywords: home environment, older people, aging, vision, health promotion, lighting intervention

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