Hillcrest indoor lighting approved

Lisa Hammer

 The Illinois Department of Public Health has approved Hillcrest Nursing Home's $100,000 grant for full-spectrum indoor lighting.

 Hillcrest administrator Mary Bergren said half of the fine money that is imposed on nursing homes goes into a fund for such grants. The state is particularly interested in projects that are innovative and might be shared with other nursing homes, Bergren said. She said the interior work of the Hill-crest project is unique because of the full-spectrum lighting, which will be about half the project.

 Full-spectrum lighting has shown positive effects in people with depression and dementia, Bergren said, and it's hoped they may see results including better appetites, which can mean better health, a reduction in medications for depression, lower blood pressure, better memory and other benefits. 

 "Typically when a new resident comes in, there's a period of adjustment and it's not unusual to have some depression," she said.

 Hillcrest will also replace a too-steep sidewalk to the front-yard screen house, switch five handicapped-accessible picnic tables and replace plain "park" benches with ones with sidearms and straight backs.

 A courtyard will get automatic doors to allow residents to use it without staff help.

 According to the home's "Light Makes Life Better" proposal, even when it's overcast, outdoor light provides as much if not more light than specialized indoor lighting. It's often hard for the elderly to get outdoors due to impaired mobility.

Bergren also said it's hoped the therapy department will work on fitness trails and exercise programs that residents could continue on their own.