Halloween can be a really fun holiday. It is such a joy to see the kids dressed up in their cute costumes trick-or-treating around the neighborhood and on their way to school parties or trunk-or-treat events. But Halloween can also be a confusing or even scary time for people who suffer from Alzheimer’s and Dementia. With the festivities also comes unfamiliar noises, constant doorbell ringing, loud knocks at the door, strangers wearing masks, teenagers pulling pranks, etc. all of which can be unsettling for anyone, but especially for Alzheimer’s patients.
Fear not! None of this means you can’t celebrate. A few simple adjustments will help to ensure the whole family enjoys All Hallows’ Eve:
- Discuss your Halloween plans with the older adults in your life: Describe ahead of time how the day or evening will go. Talk about trick-or-treating and engage with older adults as they recount fond memories of past holidays. Involve children in the discussion by encouraging them to show off their costumes before getting dressed for school or parties. Show your loved ones any decorations before putting them out and ask, “Do you like this?” If he or she says, “That scares me,” then respect this perspective. If you are feeling extra creative, make some decorations together.
- Avoid leaving Alzheimer sufferers alone on Halloween: If you are heading out to a party or to take the kids around the neighborhood, make sure to ask someone you trust to stay with your loved ones. Having someone there to answer the door and reassure an Alzheimer’s patient when he or she hears strange noises will put everyone’s minds at ease.
- Have the grandkids take off the masks when visiting grandma: Kids love to strut their stuff on Halloween, but make sure they understand that some parts of their costumes might not be appropriate for all audiences. Even a simple, cute mask can appear frightening or confusing through the eyes of someone with Dementia (and many masks are downright ghoulish). Elaborate make-up can also be confusing; if it belongs on the set of a movie, have the kids wait to put it on until after visiting grandma. Plastic swords and guns should also stay in the car. No one wants to risk a silly toy causing a serious incident.
- Be aware of your loved ones’ dietary restrictions: If you keep loose candy in a bowl, it can be so easy to mindlessly eat too much (and really, who can resist candy corn?). Those with Diabetes must be particularly careful to monitor their sugar intake. So make sure to pay close attention to how many times hands are dipping into the bowl. Or even better, replace sugary treats with healthier options such as apple slices with cinnamon, celery sticks with peanut butter, or yogurt with berries.
Besides confusing and scary rituals, there is another serious concern facing Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients. Amidst the Halloween hubbub, they are more prone to wander out of the house. If this should happen to your loved ones, wouldn’t you feel better knowing they have an easy way to get back home quickly and safely? PBE’s Safe Anywhere service uses the same geo-location technology 911 uses. With this service, emergency help is available 24 hours a day at the touch of a button from any location.
PBE wants you to remember that Halloween is not just for kids! Let’s keep everyone safe during the spookiest season.