If you’re caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, Halloween can be exceptionally scary.
After all, not only can roaming trick-or-treaters open your loved one up to the possibility of pranks. It’s a prime time for burglars and scam artists to attack.
In addition, the constantly ringing doorbell and children in costumes can be disturbing, confusing and even frightening for someone with any type of dementia including Alzheimer’s. Here are some tips to keep your loved one with safe on Halloween. 5 Halloween Safety Tips for Seniors with Alzheimer’s
1. Make sure your loved one has company on Halloween
Robberies can happen any day of the year, but Halloween makes older adults an easy target. Make sure your loved one is not left home alone.
If they must be left alone for a short period of time, leave a bowl of candy outside the door with a note for neighborhood children to take a piece or two. Instruct your loved one not to open the door for anyone.
2. Choose fun Halloween decorations—not scary ones
Pumpkins probably won’t upset a senior with Alzheimer’s. But skeletons—even fake-looking plastic ones—may. Additionally, avoid motion- or sound-activated decorations that make spooky sounds or sudden movements.
How do you know what’s scary? If it’s frightening to a toddler or changes the appearance of your home into something unfamiliar, it may be scary to a senior with Alzheimer’s.
There’s another reason to avoid drastic décor changes, too. Rearranging furniture to accommodate large, life-like figures can create a fall hazard for a senior with Alzheimer’s.
3. Eliminate candles and glowing lights
Flickering flames and the eerie glow of a jack-o-lantern can cast strange shadows. They may cause anxiety in people with Alzheimer’s who might already be experiencing changes in vision caused by the disease.
4. Monitor television viewing closely
Television channels are filled with horror movies this time of year. A single scene in a scary movie can leave a lasting impression on a senior with Alzheimer’s. If your loved one tends to channel surf, consider blocking certain channels known to show scary movies. Or keep your loved one busy with other activities so they won’t watch as much TV, reducing the odds they’ll stumble upon The Exorcist or something even worse.
5. Build your own traditions
Some seniors with Alzheimer’s may be fine answering the door for cute children dressed in costumes. But if the entire ritual is upsetting, leave a bowl of candy outside the door with instructions for neighborhood kids to take a piece or two, and stay inside to create new traditions.
Consider doing seasonal crafts, watching a fun (not scary) movie, or looking through old photographs and remembering holidays past. Put the focus on fall, not Halloween. Look ahead to Thanksgiving plans or discuss favorite fall memories, such as apple picking with the family.
Making Halloween Fun for Your Loved One with Alzheimer’s
If you’re caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s you don’t have to ignore Halloween entirely. But it doesn’t have to be scary. Focus on fun activities and pay close attention to see which Halloween festivities your loved one enjoys.