The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine (JAMDA) recently published a research study showing long-term care facility falls were reduced 43% by changing light spectrum and intensity throughout the day for residents. In four long-term care homes totaling 758 residents, investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, led by Shadab Rahman, Ph.D., MPH, and Leilah Grant, Ph.D., of the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, studied whether changing the intensity and spectrum of lighting across the day — which impacts neurocognitive processes such as alertness, mood and sleep — can reduce the rate of falls in elderly care-home residents.

In the homes, specifically, the short-wavelength (blue) content of ambient lighting was changed dynamically across the day and night at two sites, with fall rates at these sites then compared to the fall rates from the two other control sites, where the intensity and spectrum were fixed throughout the day and night. Overall, the researchers found a 43% reduction in the rate of falls for those who were exposed to the dynamic lighting versus those who were not.

“The ability to significantly reduce the rate of falls in long-term, care-home residents by implementing a relatively low-cost, passive, environmental intervention such as changing the spectrum and intensity of lighting throughout the day as a preventative strategy has major implications for improving health and well-being in this at-risk population,” said Rahman, the corresponding author of the study.

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death for older adults (age 65+) in America. Since current interventions to reduce falls are multifactorial and require significant time and resources, pushes have been made to find alternative low-cost and low-burden solutions.

The full author list for the research study is:

  • Leilah K. Grant, Ph.D.
  • Melissa A. St. Hilaire, Ph.D.
  • Jenna P. Heller, BS
  • Rodney A. Heller, BS
  • Steven W. Lockley, Ph.D.
  • Shadab A. Rahman, Ph.D., MPH

The research article is published here.