Light portrays hope, optimism and life.

In our day to day, a good source of light creates optimal ambience for work or relaxation, allowing us to be more productive and happier.

Whether it’s a well-lit corner of a living room, or an airy area with heavy sunrays, a well-lit space is a true difference-maker. This insight into what natural light can do to our mental state led to questions about how it may impact those within institutionalized environments. A recent study focused on those living with dementia.

What it found was that individuals exposed to early morning sunshine showed less stress, better moods and fewer psychoactive symptoms common in those with degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, according to a pilot study. There is just something about being in natural light to start the day. It is also hoped that the benefits of well-lit environments can create a movement of how facilities are designed and thus improve the comfort level of the patient.

The research is part of an effort to examine non-medical solutions to an illness that touches the lives of millions of Americans and their loved ones. While many people associate dementia symptoms to cognitive decline, it can also put a dent in the spirit of not only those with the disease, but those who care for them.

Depression, agitation and difficulty speaking are not uncommon outcomes of this disease. In many cases, these characteristics can create hurdles to care.

My mission as an advocate for individuals with dementia has taken me into livings rooms and care facilities around the United States to train individuals on how to provide care that focuses on compassion. Being dementia-aware means putting the patient first.

Caring for someone with dementia has no parallel, and the hurdles families face are real and painful. That is why a specialized approach that’s compassionate and relationship-focused is necessary. Through this care, meaningful relationships begin to take shape and special moments become a regular occurrence. This powerful interaction can set the tone for future care. Once this level of care is achieved, it’s like a bright shining light that suddenly tells us everything will be OK.