It’s a Sunshine Day!

Many of us remember Marcia, Greg and the rest of the Brady kids happily singing about a sunshine day, but for anyone living in the Midwest, sunshine days are few and far between in the winter months.  The positive affects of sunshine, as well as the negative, have long been understood by scientists as well as doctors and at this point, the general public.  There was a time when  sunburn and sunstroke were the worst case results of too much sun exposure.  Now, we are all aware of the risks of skin cancer caused by the sun’s rays.  Regardless, the benefits are undeniable; people are healthier when exposed to regular sunlight.

It has been only since the mid 1980’s that Americans were introduced to the idea of seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).  Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal coined the term in 1984 after researching his own bouts with winter depression that occurred after he moved to New York from South Africa.  Further studies proved that for a significant amount of the population, lack of or decrease of sunlight had an adverse affect on mood and in some cases caused severe depression.

Since then, related research has determined that there is more of a link to sunshine and brain function than realized before.  It has long been understood that the human skin absorbs vitamins from the sun’s rays, mostly D vitamins.  More recent studies have shown that there might be direct correlation between Vitamin D3 its effects on preventing, slowing and reversing the some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.  Experts agree it is too early to say for sure what the extent of the connection is, but there does appear to be one.  Studies continually show that people exposed to more sunlight are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s or other dementia.  Some research has even shown that Vitamin D3 may even destroy the deadly tangles and plaques found on a brain with dementia.  Like anything else, every person’s body and chemical make up is different and some may be more or less affected by sun exposure.  The results so far are general.

Regardless of what comes from these studies, we already know the importance of sunshine to our well being.  Even if you are fair skinned and avoid direct exposure to sunlight, the plosive affects are the same.  Like water and air, the sun is a source of life for all of us.  Perhaps its rays hold more than light and warmth, but the keys to fighting and defeating diseases.  Imagine your doctor prescribing that you take a day off to get some needed sunshine….

Terra Vista wholeheartedly believes in the power that sunshine plays in all of our health, regardless of these latest discoveries.  We have dedicated over 22,000 square feet to our interior, outdoor courtyard to give our residents, and their families, every opportunity to enjoy the natural sunlight and fresh air that gardens have to offer.   We would love to hear your thoughts on this and all matters that relate to dementia and/or the overall care of older adults.  Your experiences may prove helpful to others.