Halloween – This day can really throw a person with dementia into quite a tizzy. I mean, those scary masks and glaring jack-o-lanterns can cause the most stable of us to shudder.
Consider the following suggestions and tweak them to your personal circumstances:
1) Most of the activity for Halloween takes place from sun set into the evening hours. This will certainly cause a disruption in your loved one’s regular pattern. if your loved one “sundowns” then you could be in for a l-o-n-g evening.
2) If you plan to give out candy, etc. consider posting someone at the door to greet trick or treaters, that way, you’ll avoid the constant ringing of the doorbell or knocking on the door, which can cause nervousness or anxiety in your loved one.
3) If you or your children plan to dress up, consider the impact that your costume will have on your loved one. You know your 10 year old son is just your son in a vampire costume. However, your loved one may be seriously fearful of such a costume. Even a simple fairy or ballerina costume can throw your loved one for a loop for weeks.
4) If possible, feasible and practical, include your loved one in the celebration.
5) Be mindful of scary home decorations. Cobwebs and witches and jack-o-lanterns throughout the house can be really scary to someone with dementia and anything with fangs and blinking lights is probably a no – no as well.
6) Nix the noises. Depending on what stage your loved one is in, all of the explanation in the world is not going to help grandma to understand that the screaming sound is not real.
7) Consider the divide and conquer plan. If you love Halloween or have children that need to celebrate, then consider having someone to take your loved one out to dinner or consider inviting a friend or relative over to keep your loved one occupied (and away from the activity) while you celebrate.
Click here for a few more suggestions regading Halloween and the elderly.
I guess the bottom line here is that wherever possible and appropriate, you’ll want to include your loved one in holiday festivities. Just remember that you are not dealing with the same person that you were years ago. So, you may have to adjust your expectations and your loved one’s level of participation in order to make it a fun and enjoyable holiday versus a nightmare. I’ve had both, trust me limited participation is definitely the better option.