There is certainly no age limit to enjoying the fun of Halloween! Seniors are often delighted by visits from trick-or-treaters, together with a chance to take pleasure in fall treats and fun decorations. Nevertheless, if a cherished older adult is struggling with the challenges of dementia, certain elements of the Halloween season might be downright distressing. All of a sudden, there are unanticipated surprises, visitors, and changes to routine, and it may be tough to separate fantasy from reality.
Imagine, in your own 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 spiders. In the aisle where you generally find housewares, the shelves are stocked instead with creepy masks, fake blood, and skeletons. Has the world gone crazy?
Common dementia behaviors like confusion, anxiety, and fear can increase at this time of year, and it’s important for family caregivers to take steps to help senior loved ones maintain a feeling of calm and a routine. Alzheimer’s Universe gives the following suggestions:
- Limit decorations in the older adult’s home, or bypass them altogether. In particular, those with blinking lights and disruptive noises might cause the individual to become frightened enough to leave the house.
- If trick-or-treaters cause anxiety for the senior, leave a bowl of candy out on the porch with a note for kids to take one. Or perhaps turn the porch light off so families know the home is not handing out candy this year.
- If feasible, and if it would be agreeable to your senior loved one, visit a friend who lives in a rural area free from trick-or-treaters for the evening.
- If the senior lives alone, make sure a family member, friend, or professional caregiver, like those at Anthem Home Care, is available to stay with the person.
In case the older adult becomes distressed or agitated in spite of taking the preventative measures above, try these suggestions from the National Institute on Aging:
- Help the senior move into a different room for a distraction from the cause of the agitation.
- Speak in a quiet, calm voice, and let the older adult know he or she is safe and that all is well.
- Turn on soft music and bring out an activity that the individual particularly enjoys.
With some upfront planning, people who have dementia can stay calm and content through the entire Halloween season. The specially trained care team at Anthem Home Care is always readily available 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 or give us a call at 361-643-2323 to find out more about our top-rated dementia care in Portland.