A systematic review on the therapeutic lighting design for the elderly

Research suggests that specialized lighting design is essential to cater for the elderly users of a building because of the physiological changes in the eye with increased age. Recent studies have established that lighting in a space impacts on users’ physical performance as well as on the mental state. In particular, light therapies have been found to be successful in treating several mood disorders in the elderly. Nevertheless, information relating to the therapeutic performance of lighting is scattered and comparatively less studied in built environment research. This review aims to identify the criteria for the therapeutic lighting design for the elderly and to discuss its applicability on contemporary design practices. Methodologies adopted for this study include a systematic review of literature to synthesize recent research findings and an evaluation of lighting guides published by the regulatory bodies and professional institutions to identify current practice. The review identified that there are substantial amount of evidence exists, which can be incorporated during elderly lighting design to increase the therapeutic performance of the space. Apart from enabling the users to navigate safely and perform routine tasks, the therapeutic performance of lighting is significant to enhance elderly wellbeing. Depression, delirium, sleep disorder and disorder in the circadian system are common mood disorders among the elderly, which are evidently influenced by the lighting environment. Advancements in lighting technology, in particular in low energy Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting have led to new approaches to meet detail photometric parameters to construct the desired therapeutic environment. Our understanding of the photo-biological effects of lighting has enhanced, however the evidence is not well integrated with design guidelines. The research reported here has made an attempt to bridge this gap by developing a comprehensive knowledge base of the therapeutic lighting design for the elderly.