Why Sunlight Is Healthy for Aging Adults

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The sun provides energy for the planet and keeps it healthy, and it can also have similar effects on the elderly if approached properly and safely. Caledon live-in care experts discuss some of the health benefits your senior loved one can gain from spending a little time in the sun.

Enhances Brain Function

Getting some sun can enhance your loved one’s memory. The sun is a natural source of vitamin D, which researchers have linked to boosts in brain function. A study done by David Llewellyn at the University of Cambridge evaluated vitamin D levels in over 1,700 women and men aged 65 and over and discovered those with lower levels of vitamin D had reduced cognitive function. Further research has found sunlight may help boost nerve cell growth in the part of the brain that organizes, forms, and stores memories.

Promotes Bone Health

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated there is evolving evidence indicating a link between vitamin D3 and bone density. Vitamin D3, which regulates how much calcium the body absorbs, is manufactured when sunlight hits the skin. The more vitamin D3 your loved one has in his or her blood, the less likely he or she will get a bone fracture. 

Alleviates Alzheimer’s Symptoms

Studies have shown seniors with Alzheimer’s who are in the sunlight throughout the day score better on mental tests. The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that stated seniors with Alzheimer’s who were exposed to bright sunlight experienced fewer symptoms of agitation, depression, and insomnia and lost less cognitive function than those who were exposed to low daytime lighting. Scientists attribute these benefits to a more regular body clock. 

Increases Sleep Quality

When sunlight hits a person’s eyes, a message goes to the pineal gland in the brain and stops the manufacturing of melatonin, a hormone that facilitates sleep. The body receives a sign it is no longer dark outside, which helps keep the body clock regular. Low levels of melatonin production at night because of overproduction during the day has been associated with poor sleep quality, especially in seniors. Encourage your loved one to take his or her sunglasses off early in the morning so his or her body can receive the message it’s daytime and halt the production of melatonin.

If your loved one isn’t getting enough sunlight, encourage him or her to participate in outdoor activities like gardening and walking. Activities such as these provide additional health benefits, and can be easier to manage with the help of a professional caregiver. At Home Care Assistance, our caregivers can ensure your loved one stays healthy by helping with a wide variety of important tasks. For more information on the home care Caledon families trust, call one of our friendly Care Managers at 905-951-8885 to schedule a no-obligation consultation.