Upgrading Lighting May Significantly Reduce Fall Rates

October 21, 2022

October 21, 2022
Contact: Ellen Mullally

Falling is not a normal part of aging. Instead, falls are often avoidable accidents that have major health and economic implications for nursing home residents. There is much that can be done to prevent falls and keep older adults healthy. According to a new study in the October issue of JAMDA, upgrading ambient lighting can help reduce fall rates and possibly have other benefits as well.

In Impact of Upgraded Lighting on Falls in Care Home Residents, the authors took two groups of care homes and identified one “experimental” site from each pair. Solid-state lighting was installed in the experimental sites throughout the facilities that changed in intensity and spectrum to increase short-wavelength (blue light) exposure during the day and decrease it overnight. The control sites retained standard lighting with no change in intensity or spectrum throughout the day.

Prior to the lighting upgrade, the rate of falls was similar between experimental and control sites. However, following the change, falls were reduced by 43% at the experimental sites compared to the control sites. The rate of falls remained significantly lower in the experimental settings following the lighting upgrade after adjustment for age, sex, and proportion of residents with dementia. In an additional model adjusting for age, sex, dementia, physical therapy, ambulation transfer, and medication, there was a non-significant trend for a lower fall rate following the lighting upgrade.

The authors observed, “The reduction in fall rate associated with the lighting upgrade is potentially substantial. Fall prevention interventions in older adults generally have achieved more modest reductions, often with more complex and resource-intensive interventions.” There also may be additional benefits of upgrading lighting. “Acute blue-light or blue-enriched white light exposure improves cognition, and in the care home setting has been shown to attenuate cognitive decline. Furthermore, increased exposure to light in care home residents has also been shown to improve sleep duration, sleep quality and daytime activity, and reduce depression, anxiety, and agitation, all factors which may in turn contribute to reducing the risk of falls.”

This article was conducted by researchers at the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Departments of Medicine and Neurology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA; Division of Sleep Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA; and Midwest Lighting Institute Inc., Cottage Grove, WI.

Get more information on the findings above and more details about the study. To contact the researchers or JAMDA editors for an interview, please email emullally@paltc.org.





JAMDA is the official journal of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. JAMDA publishes peer-reviewed articles including original studies, reviews, clinical experience articles, case reports, and more, on all topics more important to post-acute and long-term care medicine. Visit www.jamda.com for more information.

About AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine
AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine is the only medical specialty society representing the community of over 50,000 medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners working in the various post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) settings. Dedicated to defining and improving quality, we advance our mission through timely professional development, evidence-based clinical guidance, and tireless advocacy on behalf of members, patients, families, and staff. Visit www.paltc.org for more information.