(WWLP) – Halloween is just around the corner, and 22News is working for you with how you can keep the holiday safe, and enjoyable for loved ones with dementia.
A time like Halloween can create difficult situations for people suffering from these diseases. According to Tina Gorman of the Westfield Council on Aging, there are some things caregivers can to do keep people safe and comfortable.
“Letting your loved one know if they have that kind of disability that this is Halloween, these are the grandchildren behind the masks. Lift up the mask, show them. Using the word: Trick or treating, Halloween, Fun… this is a fun thing, Dressing up… this is a costume, These are all costumes, This is pretend. I think all those things are really helpful,” said Gorman.
Like many other traditions, there are a few modifications families should make to help relatives living with dementia be more comfortable. Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) advises family caregivers to play relaxing music, or engage in a quiet activity, such as reading a book, or watching tv, to help decrease agitation or distress.
Avoid putting up interactive decorations that talk or scream when someone passes by. Decorations can be scary and upsetting for someone living with dementia, and cause them to wander off. Try not to have costumed strangers continuously knocking on the door, because it could also be frightening for your loved one.. and pose a safety risk.
The Alzheimer’s Association also suggests limiting exposure to flashing lights and sensor-activated decorations and moving your loved one to a quieter space. Asking them to talk about Halloween and share their memories can also be helpful.
If you plan on participating in Halloween, it’s best to arrange for the person to go to a relative or friend’s house, or keep candy outside the door for trick-or-treaters, with a sign that says “Please Take One.”