When a senior has Alzheimer’s disease, safety and security are always concerns for family caregivers. From wandering to falls, people with dementia face many challenges. One safety concern occurs every October: Halloween.

Families in neighborhoods all over the country celebrate Halloween by decorating their homes and yards, donning costumes, and participating in trick-or-treat. For adults with Alzheimer’s disease, the night can be difficult to process.

Because their cognitive abilities are often impaired, a senior with Alzheimer’s might not be able to distinguish fantasy from reality. While witches, skeletons, ghosts, and zombies are Halloween staples most of us enjoy, they can be frightening for someone with Alzheimer’s. They may increase confusion, anxiety, and agitation.

Celebrating Halloween Safely When a Senior has Alzheimer’s Disease

Use these tips to keep a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s disease safe this Halloween.

1.  Be mindful of Halloween decorations

Your family might have a tradition of creating spooky scenes in your home and yard. Families often look forward to this annual celebration of ghosts and goblins. But for people with Alzheimer’s, distinguishing make-believe decorations like coffins, skulls, spiders, and bats from reality is challenging.

Decorations designed to cause fright or those that make loud noises might trigger anger, aggression, and wandering in an adult with Alzheimer’s. Be especially wary of things that fall from a ceiling or tree or pop up from the ground.

While it might not be as exciting, it’s probably safer to decorate with mums, pansies, pumpkins, and cornstalks and avoid items that might cause fear.


2.  Set reasonable expectations for Halloween

Halloween can be a great intergenerational celebration for your family to enjoy together. While you might be tempted to sign up for community events and activities like hay rides, pumpkin carving, and Halloween parties, it’s important to set realistic expectations.

A overly tired senior with Alzheimer’s may become agitated and look for an avenue to escape. Try not to schedule multiple events too close together. Also keep your loved one’s best and worst times of day in mind as you are planning.

If you want to attend more events than you think your loved one can safely handle, consider taking advantage of Alzheimer’s care communities that offer short-term stays or home care agencies that provide respite services.


3.  Protect your loved one when you are out in public

Retail stores, grocery stores, banks, and other businesses often join the Halloween fun with festive decorations. Some go as far as setting up haunted houses or other interactive decorations. For a senior with Alzheimer’s, this can make running simple errands more of a challenge.

As you make your way around town, be mindful of decorations that may be frightening for your loved one.

4.  Plan ahead for Halloween night

Halloween night can be the biggest challenge to keeping your loved one safe. Trick-or-treaters constantly ringing the doorbell can be confusing for a senior with Alzheimer’s. Opening the door to find people in costumes can be disorienting and frightening.

If you will be participating in your neighborhood’s trick-or-treat, find a friend or family member who can visit with your loved one during those hours. Maybe they can engage in an arts and crafts project, look through family photos, or watch television together to keep your loved one’s attention redirected.

It might also help to sit outside to hand out candy if the weather is good or to hang a sign on the door asking visitors to knock instead of ringing the doorbell.

Let Our Care Advisors Help You Find Alzheimer’s Care

When a senior is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the entire family feels the impact. Caring for an adult with Alzheimer’s or a similar form of dementia can be mentally and physically exhausting. If loved ones are concerned they aren’t managing their family member’s at-home care very well, they may begin searching for an Alzheimer’s care community.

These specialized programs are often referred to as memory care communities and are designed to meet the unique needs of people with cognitive loss. If you are beginning to search for Alzheimer’s care for a loved one, we can help.

One of our experienced senior care advisors will help you explore your options and connect with a memory care community that best meets the senior’s needs. Our advice and guidance are always free for seniors and families. Call us today at 800-304-8061 to get started!

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