There is honestly no age limit in enjoying the excitement of Halloween! Seniors generally are delighted by visits from trick-or-treaters, and the opportunity to experience fall treats and fun decorations. However, for seniors with Alzheimer’s, certain elements of the Halloween season can be downright distressing. Suddenly, there are unanticipated surprises, visitors, and changes to routine, and it can be challenging to differentiate fantasy from reality.
Consider, in your everyday life, if Halloween was a foreign concept. You walk into your favorite department store and are greeted by larger-than-life inflatables, glowing witches, ghosts, and spiders. In the section where you normally find housewares, the shelves are packed instead with spooky masks, fake blood, and skeletons. Has the world gone crazy?
Naturally, the confusion, anxiety, and fear inherent in dementia may be elevated at this time of the year, plus it’s very important for members of the family to take action to help loved ones maintain a sense of calm and routine. Alzheimer’s Universe offers the following suggestions:
- Reduce decorations in the older adult’s home, or skip them altogether. Specifically, those with blinking lights and disruptive noises might cause the senior to become frightened enough to leave the home.
- If trick-or-treaters could possibly cause anxiety for the senior, leave a bowl of candy out on the porch with a note for children to take one. Alternatively, turn the porch light off so families understand the home is not handing out candy this year.
- If manageable and agreeable to the senior loved one, visit a family member who lives in a rural area free from trick-or-treaters for the evening.
- If the senior lives alone, ensure that a family member, friend, or professional caregiver, like those at Home With You Senior Care, is available to stay with the person.
In the event that the older adult becomes upset or agitated in spite of taking the precautions above, try these pointers from the National Institute on Aging:
- Help the senior move into a new room for a diversion from the reason behind the agitation.
- Speak in a quiet, calm voice, and let the senior know she or he is safe and that all is well.
- Turn on soft music and bring out an activity that the individual especially enjoys.
With some advanced planning, people who have Alzheimer’s can stay calm and content through the entire Halloween season. The highly trained care team at Home With You Senior Care is always available to supply strategies to help with the many complexities of Alzheimer’s, and to partner with families with professional in-home care – as much or as little as needed, and always supplied with compassion, patience, and skill. Give us a call at 410-756-0959 to find out more about our Columbia memory care.