There is certainly no age limit in experiencing and enjoying the fun of Halloween! Seniors generally are thrilled by visits from trick-or-treaters, along with the chance to experience fall treats and fun decorations. Nevertheless, if a senior is contending with the challenges of dementia, certain elements of the Halloween season might be downright terrifying. All of a sudden, they’re encountering unanticipated surprises, visitors, and changes to routine, and it may be difficult to differentiate fantasy from reality.
Imagine, in your own day-to-day life, if Halloween was a foreign concept. You go to your favorite store and are greeted by larger-than-life inflatables, glowing witches, ghosts, and spiders. In the section in which you regularly find housewares, the shelves are loaded instead with scary masks, fake blood, and machetes. Has the world gone crazy?
Naturally, the confusion, anxiety, and fear inherent in dementia can be elevated at this time of year, and it’s essential for family members to help cherished older adults maintain a feeling of calm and keep a routine. Alzheimer’s Universe offers the following suggestions:
- Reduce decorations in the senior’s home, or bypass them altogether. Specifically, those with flashing lights and disruptive noises can result in the individual becoming scared enough to leave the home.
- If trick-or-treaters can lead to agitation for the senior, leave a bowl of candy out on the porch with a note for children to take one. Or possibly turn the porch light off so families understand the home is not handing out candy this year.
- If manageable, and agreeable to the senior, visit a friend who lives in a remote area free from trick-or-treaters for the evening.
- If the older adult lives alone, be certain a family member, friend, or professional caregiver, like those at Absolute Companion Care, is on hand to stay with the person.
In the event that the senior becomes upset or agitated in spite of taking the precautions above, try these suggestions from the National Institute on Aging:
- Help the senior move into a new room for a distraction from the cause of agitation.
- Communicate in a soft, calm voice, and let the older adult know she or he 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, those diagnosed with dementia can remain relaxed and content during the Halloween season. The specially trained care team at Absolute Companion Care is always on hand to provide strategies to help with the numerous intricacies of dementia, 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. Contact us at 410-357-9640 to learn more about our Alzheimer’s care and respite care in Towson, MD and the surrounding communities.