For most of us Halloween holds childhood memories of dressing up, carving pumpkins and going door to door for sweets. And for many of our Elderly friends and family this memory expands to giving out sweets to the costumed children at their door.
However for some living with dementia and/or Physical limitations; Halloween may hold negative feelings and fear that can contribute to negative behaviors leading up to and on Halloween itself.
- Stanger stress – seniors may feel intimidated by opening the door to numerous strangers.
- Being alone – this puts seniors at risk for scary pranks or even a fall or accident.
- The dark – seniors may fall, grow confused or get scared.
Keeping our elderly population as safe as possible on Halloween while still enjoying the holiday in their own way can be possible with a few considerations and interventions.
This is by no means an exhaustive or complete approach to safety or recommendations, but instead just a few considerations as you prepare for Halloween with an Elderly person.
Halloween Safety Tips for the Elderly
- Keep all floors, entry ways and porches free of decorations.
- Add night lights to hallways, walkways and rooms, and keep well lit.
- Avoid window decorations that block light or view of front entry.
- Use only safe pumpkin carving tools, light pumpkin with flame-less votive.
- Place carved pumpkins outside to keep decaying smell and bugs outside.
- Spend the evening with them, be available to help answer door, keep them safe.
- When done with sweets, or at dusk: Put sign on door, “Sorry No More Sweets”.
Don’t leave an elderly person living with dementia or physical limitations home alone on Halloween…
- Take them to a community event or family home, and return home after dusk.
- Send a companion or to be with them from 4:00-10:00 or overnight.
- Help them answer door and hand out sweets if they wish.
- Put out sign when done “Sorry No More Sweets”.
- Watch movie or listen to music in another room away from front door if possible.
- Be prepared; books, albums, crafts, favorite foods, etc. to enjoy and distract.
- Follow dietary instructions; avoid over indulgence of chocolate or sugar.
Remember Halloween may not be a happy time for elderly living with dementia and may be scary, or create added stimulation from doorbell, knocks, noise outside. Be sensitive to what they can tolerate and do your best to keep them safe and enjoy the evening with you so everyone can have a safe and happy halloween!