There’s certainly no age limit in experiencing the fun of Halloween! Older adults are often thrilled by visits from trick-or-treaters, as well as the chance to delight in fall treats and fun decorations. Nonetheless, if a cherished older adult is struggling with the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease, certain elements of the Halloween season might be downright frightening. Without warning there are unexpected surprises, visitors, and changes to routine, and it can be difficult to separate fantasy from reality.
Imagine, in your own daily life, if Halloween was a foreign concept. You head into your favorite store and are met by larger-than-life inflatables, glowing witches, ghosts, and oversized spiders. In the section where you commonly find housewares, the shelves are instead filled with spooky masks, fake blood, and machetes. Has the world gone mad?
Naturally, the distress, anxiety, and fear inherent in Alzheimer’s disease is often increased at this time of the year, and it’s necessary for family members to make a plan to help senior loved ones maintain a sense of calm and routine. Alzheimer’s Universe gives the following suggestions:
- Limit decorations in the older adult’s home, or skip them altogether. In particular, those with blinking lights and loud noises may cause the senior to become scared enough to leave the house.
- If trick-or-treaters might cause agitation for the older adult, leave a full bowl of candy out on the porch with a note for kids to take one. Or turn the porch light off so families know the home is not handing out candy this year.
- If possible and if agreeable to your senior loved one, visit another family member who lives in a rural area free from trick-or-treaters for the evening.
- If the senior lives alone, be certain a family member, friend, or professional caregiver, like those at Compassionate Nursing Services, is on hand to stay with the individual.
In case the older adult becomes distressed or agitated in spite of taking the preventative measures above, try the following tips from the National Institute on Aging:
- Help the senior move into a different room for a diversion from the cause of the agitation.
- Communicate in a quiet, calm voice, and let the senior know he or she is safe and that all is well.
- Turn on soft music and bring out an activity that your senior loved one especially enjoys.
With some advance planning, people who have Alzheimer’s disease can remain calm and content during the Halloween season. The highly trained care team at Compassionate Nursing Services is always on hand to provide strategies to help with the various 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 314-432-4312 to find out more about our expert senior care in St. Louis.