There’s certainly no age limit in experiencing the joy of Halloween! Seniors typically are delighted by visits from trick-or-treaters, as well as the chance to delight in fall treats and fun decorations. Nevertheless, if a loved one is struggling with the challenges of dementia, certain elements of the Halloween season may be downright terrifying. Without warning, there are unexpected surprises, visitors, and changes to routine, and it may be hard to differentiate fantasy from reality.
Just imagine, in your everyday life, if Halloween were a foreign concept. You go to your favorite department store and are greeted by larger-than-life inflatable, glowing witches, ghosts, and spiders. In the aisle in which you regularly find housewares, the shelves are filled instead with spooky masks, fake blood, and skeletons. Has the world gone mad?
Naturally, the disorientation, anxiety, and fear inherent in dementia could be heightened at this time of the year, and it’s a good idea for friends and family to take steps to help loved ones keep a sense of calm and routine. Alzheimer’s Universe provides the following suggestions:
- Reduce decorations in the senior’s home, or cut them out altogether. In particular, those with blinking lights and disruptive noises might result in the individual becoming frightened enough to try to leave the home.
- If trick-or-treaters might result in anxiety for the senior, leave a bowl of candy out on the porch with a note for children to take one. Or alternatively, turn the porch light off so families know the home is not handing out candy this year.
- If manageable and agreeable to the senior, visit a friend or relative who lives in a rural area free from trick-or-treaters for the evening.
- If the older adult lives alone, make sure a family member, a friend, or a professional caregiver, like those at At-Home Care Company, is available to stay with the individual.
If the older adult becomes upset or agitated in spite of taking the safety measures above, try these guidelines from the National Institute on Aging:
- Help the older adult move into a new room for a distraction from the cause behind the agitation.
- Speak in a quiet, 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 particularly enjoys.
With a little upfront planning, those diagnosed with dementia can stay calm and content during the Halloween season. The specially trained care team at At-Home Care Company is always on hand to offer strategies to help with the countless intricacies of dementia, and to partner with families with professional in-home care – as much or as little as needed, and always provided with compassion, patience, and skill. Contact us at (515) 292-2650 for additional information about our top-rated Des Moines dementia care.