ACCESS Nursing News and Blog

Halloween is Not a Treat for People Living with Alzheimer’s & Dementia

Posted by ACCESS Nursing Services on Oct 28, 2021 12:27:39 PM

Halloween festivities are fun for most people but can also cause great anxiety and confusion for people living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Halloween decorations, scary costumes, and masks, as well as surprise “trick-or-treat” visitors can be extremely distressing and frightening to them.

The following 9 tips from the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center can make Halloween less frightening for people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia:

  1. Keep decorations to a minimum. Decorations that change the look of the house may lead to anxiety and confusion.
  2. Avoid the scary Halloween doormat. If it scares a 6-year-old, it will scare a person with dementia.
  3. Don’t put out a fake cemetery and hanging goblins in the front yard. Decorations may get you in the holiday spirit but don’t be surprised when your loved one refuses to walk in or out of the house.
  4. Avoid nighttime use of flashlights, candles, and light-up pumpkins. A person with dementia will have visual perception changes and the eerie glow that they cast can lead to high anxiety.
  5. Stay away from the malls while the little ghosts and goblins are trick or treating. It may be a safer way for the kids to enjoy the holiday but for a person with dementia, it will just add to the confusion and anxiety.
  6. Put the candy in a safe place. Avoid leaving the treats by the front door. Your loved one with dementia may not know that he/she has dietary restrictions. Save yourself a trip to the hospital and lock the candy in a safe place.
  7. Keep furniture in its place. Consequently, your loved one will not become confused or even worse, bump into things and fall. Alzheimer’s affects balance and perception. Watch out for low-lying candles! It’s always easier to prevent than to treat.
  8. Avoid rigging up strange sounds like ghostly laughter or creaking doors. Avoid these because they bombard people with too many stimuli.
  9. Let neighbors know that candy will be placed outside the door. So that children will not keep ringing the doorbell and frightening your loved one. Or put up a note on the door with instructions for trick or treaters.

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