There’s certainly no age limit in experiencing the excitement of Halloween! Older adults generally are thrilled by visits from trick-or-treaters, together with the opportunity to savor fall treats and fun decorations. Nevertheless, if a senior is dealing with the effects of dementia, certain elements of the Halloween season might be downright frightening. Without warning, there are unanticipated surprises, visitors, and changes to routine, and it may be challenging to separate fantasy from reality.
Just picture, in your everyday life, if Halloween was a foreign concept. You head into a popular department store and are greeted by larger-than-life inflatable, glowing witches, ghosts, and hairy spiders. In the section where you generally find housewares, the shelves are stocked instead with spooky masks, fake blood, and skeletons. Has the world gone mad?
Naturally, the confusion, anxiety, and fear inherent in dementia may be heightened at this time of year, and it’s necessary for friends and family to take steps to help cherished older adults maintain a sense of calm and routine. Alzheimer’s Universe provides the following suggestions:
- Reduce decorations in the older adult’s home, or cut them out altogether. In particular, those with flashing lights and disruptive noises can cause your loved one to become scared enough to leave the home.
- If trick-or-treaters could cause anxiety for the older adult, leave a full bowl of candy out on the porch with a note for kids to take one. Or alternatively, turn the porch light off so families know the home is not handing out candy this year.
- If feasible and agreeable to the older adult, visit another family member or friend who lives in a rural area free from trick-or-treaters for the evening.
- If the senior lives alone, make sure that a relative, friend, or professional caregiver, like those at Enhanced Home Care, is readily available to stay with the individual.
If the senior becomes distressed or agitated in spite of taking the precautions above, try these guidelines from the National Institute on Aging:
- Help the older adult move into a different room for a diversion from the cause of agitation.
- Speak in a peaceful, 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 upfront planning, people who have dementia can stay calm and content through the entire Halloween season. The highly trained care team at Enhanced Home Care is always on hand to provide strategies to help with the numerous complexities of dementia, and to partner with families with professional in-home care – as much or as little as needed, and consistently provided with compassion, patience, and skill. Contact us at 913-327-0000 for additional information about our trusted dementia care in Overland Park and the surrounding communities.