Tips (not Tricks) for celebrating Halloween with Loved Ones Who Have Dementia
Straight from the Alzheimer’s Association, and with generous help from an article posted by Eagle Senior Living, here are some important tips for getting through what can be a truly frightening holiday for those who suffer from dementia.
For those who suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease or others forms of dementia, change of any kind— especially changes in daily routine—can bring on a whole smorgasbord of unwanted behaviors. Not to mention the damage it does to their emotional well-being. For many, the added scary stimulation of wild costumes, demands for candy, and spooky décor can make Halloween confusing, even terrifying. Here are just a few things to avoid, either at home or at a memory care community—along with some ideas for how to celebrate the holiday in a fun and gentle way.
Decorating: People love to transform their homes with spiderwebs, skeletons, and toothless carved pumpkins for the whole month! It’s tradition. But those with dementia often cannot tell the difference between what’s real and what’s make-believe. Don’t expose them to even more distress than they are already feeling. Keep the decorating to a minimum or decorate with fall beauty instead.
Fear and confusion is common among people who have dementia, especially as their disease progresses. In the middle of their illness, many have trouble recognizing friends and family members. Imagine how much scarier it would be to see them all wearing masks! Don’t … for their sakes.
If your loved one is still at home, try to avoid a rush of unfamiliar houseguests. Keep their home environment as free from perceived threats as possible.
Plan ahead: Go for a lovely fall ride to see the colorful leaves or the local pumpkin patch, versus Halloween parties or parades.
Keep a watch on what your loved one is watching on television. This time of year, Dracula, werewolves, and Frankenstein dominate the small screen and can be especially disturbing for them. Instead, find other ways to occupy their time so they’ll be less likely to come across something that will trigger their worst fears.
For example, bake a pumpkin pie, decorate cookies with orange and black sprinkles, paint gourds together, or put fall flowers in pretty vases. Replace ghosts and goblins with horns of plenty or bowls full of pinecones. Go apple picking! There’re ample apple farms in our neck o’ the woods! And there’s nothing like a hot cup of spiced cider on a cool crisp Halloween day.
Above all – give your loved one the gift of time. That’s the best Halloween treat of all. Happy All Saints Day, everyone!