There’s definitely no age limit in experiencing the excitement of Halloween! Older adults generally are delighted by visits from trick-or-treaters, and also the chance to experience fall treats and fun decorations. However, if a cherished older adult is contending with dementia symptoms, certain aspects of the Halloween season can be downright frightening. All of a sudden there are unanticipated surprises, visitors, and changes to routine, and it can be tough to differentiate fantasy from reality.
Consider, in your day-to-day life, if Halloween was a foreign concept. You go to your favorite store and are met by larger-than-life inflatable, glowing witches, ghosts, and spiders. In the section where you normally find housewares, the shelves are filled instead with scary masks, fake blood, and skeletons. Has the world gone mad?
Obviously, the confusion, anxiety, and fear inherent in dementia is often elevated at this time of the year, and it’s essential for relatives to take steps to help loved ones keep a sense of calm and routine. Alzheimer’s Universe offers following suggestions:
- Reduce decorations in the older adult’s home, or cut them out altogether. In particular, those with blinking lights and disruptive noises can lead to the individual becoming frightened enough to leave the house.
- If trick-or-treaters might result in anxiety for the senior, leave a bowl of candy out on the porch with a note for children to take one. Or, turn the porch light off so families understand the home is not handing out candy this year.
- If feasible and agreeable to the senior, visit another family member or friend who lives in a rural area free from trick-or-treaters for the evening.
- If the older adult lives alone, make certain a member of family, friend, or professional caregiver, like those at Grace Home Care, is available to stay with the individual.
In the event the senior becomes distressed or agitated in spite of taking the precautions above, try these suggestions from the National Institute on Aging:
- Help the senior move into a different room for a diversion from the cause of agitation.
- Talk in a peaceful, calm voice, and let the older adult know he or she is safe and that all is well.
- Turn on soft music and bring out an activity that the individual particularly enjoys.
With some advanced planning, people who have dementia can remain relaxed and content during the Halloween season. The highly trained care team at Grace Home Care is available to provide strategies to help with the various complexities of dementia, and to partner with families with professional in-home care – as much or as little as needed, and always provided with compassion, patience, and skill. Reach out to us at 785-286-2273 for additional information about our trusted caregivers in Topeka.