CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Halloween is just one week away, so how can we keep the holiday safe and enjoyable for loved ones with dementia?

Halloween is on October 31st and can create difficult situations for people who are suffering from dementia or other dementia-related illnesses. The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is offering safety tips for family caregivers to protect loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease and other related illnesses during Halloween festivities.

  1. Avoid exposure to interactive decorations.  Decorations that can talk or scream when someone passes by, as well as those with flashing or flickering lights, can be frightening for someone with dementia and could cause them to wander away, even from their own home.  Fake skeletons, cobwebs, witches, and monsters, even if non-interactive, can also be upsetting and scary to them.
  2. Help the person relax. Halloween is full of distractions, which can upset or frighten someone who is living with dementia. Play some relaxing music, engage in a quiet activity with them such as reading a book together, and provide soothing reassurance. All of these are ways to help decrease agitation or distress.
  3. Adapt the celebration. Give them healthy snacks, such as fruit, instead of candy. Too much sugar intake could increase agitation. Reminisce by looking at old family pictures of Halloween events or watching a non-threatening program about Halloween if they seem to want to participate in the holiday.
  4. Don’t leave your loved one alone to give out candy.  Having costumed strangers knocking on the door could be frightening, confusing, and/or disruptive to someone who is living with a dementia-related illness. It can also be a safety risk. If the person wants to participate in giving out candy, have someone there to help or arrange for the person to go to a relative or friend’s house to engage with trick-or-treaters.  
  5. Keep the lights on in your home.  A dark home gives the impression that no one is inside, making it more inviting for burglars or vandals, so have some interior and exterior lights on.  Keep candy outside your door for trick-or-treaters with a sign that says “Please Take One.”

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