Literature Review: Lighting for People with Dementia; by: Torrington & Tregenza

Research has shown that guidance for lighting design for people with dementia, should not be limited to the consideration of visual tasks or compensation for deteriorating eyesight. The well-being of those who are physically and cognitively weak is affected by their overall exposure to the circadian cycle. Their freedom from anxiety and the extent to which they can continue the activities they enjoy depend on their perception of the whole place, as well as on the physical support that the building provides. The importance of lighting as an element in design for older people has been observed in architectural practice while there is increasing evidence that lighting is a significant component of a therapeutic environment.

Dementia is primarily a disease of later life, so recommendations for those with dementia must be set within the context of the lighting requirements of the older person. Sources within residents’ elds of view should be of low luminance or indirect rather than small and bright. They should also be positioned away from users’ directions of sight. Windows should have means of excluding low-elevation sunlight; windows at the ends of corridors and on lines of sight should also be avoided. However, windows providing natural or interesting views is almost universally welcomed, and the presence of a view may have beneficial effects on the health of dementia sufferers and people confined within a building. Window positions and sill heights should be related to the probable activities of people, in particular, whether they are walking, standing or sitting.

Other recommendations listed in this article: The lighting of rooms should not create dark areas where contrast with the brighter parts of the room inhibits vision. As well, reflections in shiny materials can cause both disability and discomfort glare. They hinder perception of the actual surface and mask the surface’s underlying colour; matt surfaces are preferable.

Increase the visibility of tasks; this enhances the ability to see differences of brightness and colour. Integrate diurnal daylight cycle; this ensures that residents have sufficient daylight exposure to minimize the risk of SAD and to ensure that they experience a 24-hour cycle of light and dark.

Provide potentially therapeutic views to enhance opportunities for social interaction. Preferred views are of natural scenes rather than the built environment; people confined within a building often enjoy seeing the activities of people outside. Window positions and sill heights should be related to the probable activities of people, in particular whether they are walking, standing or sitting. Seating and areas for social interaction should be provided beside view windows.

Lighting should support activities, enabling residents to continue activities they enjoyed through their lifetime and enhance opportunities for social interaction.

There should be recognition of ‘place’; interior spaces should be recognizable by dementia sufferers with no memory of recent experience. The information given by all the senses must be consistent. The clues to the nature of the room must be consistent with a common sense understanding of the building.

Torrington, J. M., & P. R. Tregenza. (2016). Lighting for People with Dementia. Retrieved from



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