February 9, 2017

Help for Alzheimer’s DiseaseResearch scientists are shedding some new light on techniques that could offer help for Alzheimer’s disease: light therapy. The benefits of light are only just starting to be tapped, and already are indicating some interesting and encouraging results.

One example is, MIT researchers are experimenting with a form of flickering light therapy, in which the visual cortex of mice is showing a short-term reduction of beta amyloid plaques. And even though there’s no indication as of yet regarding how this could correlate to human studies, it’s most definitely worth keeping an eye on.

An additional study with quite positive results in seniors with Alzheimer’s is exposure to light that has a blueish color, that is thought to help normalize the body’s circadian rhythm – leading to better sleeping patterns. Geriatric psychiatrist Dr. Guerman Ermolenko and Mariana Figueiro, of the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in NY, tested the effects on two patients with Alzheimer’s who were unable to sleep through the night by exposing them to blue light during the day. After the blue light therapy, each of the treated seniors was once again able to sleep through the night.

Surprisingly, the thinking behind these effects comes from the concept that the blue light imitates the blue sky, nudging our circadian rhythm to be in wake-up mode, and that it may also increase our levels of melatonin during the evening – contributing to more wakefulness throughout the daytime and a more restful night’s sleep.

A word of warning: a few Alzheimer’s patients may become over-stimulated by exposure to blue light. It is important to properly monitor seniors’ responses, and increase yellow light accordingly when negative effects are noticed.

At Continuum of St. Louis, we’re providing help for Alzheimer’s disease, both for seniors themselves and the families who care for them, with a selection of individualized services to improve quality of life. Our specially trained, patient and compassionate caregivers offer family members the ability to take a much needed break, knowing their older loved one is well cared for. We work hard to ensure aging adults are safe and living life to their highest potential at all times. Contact us at 314-863-9912 to learn more.