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Halloween Safety Tips for Dementia Caregivers

October 25, 2018
Trick or treaters on Halloween

Halloween’s ghosts, goblins, skeletons and little trick-or-treaters, while exciting for some people, may cause agitation, confusion and wandering for adults with dementia. It can be difficult for caregivers to keep loved ones safe and comfortable and still enjoy the nostalgia of this spooky season. Here are some safety tips to make Halloween happy and fun for everyone:

  • Limit Decorations: Because of the memory loss and impairment that comes with dementia, your loved one may struggle to distinguish between what’s real and what’s pretend. Scary Halloween décor choices can be confusing and disorienting and decorations that talk, scream, pop up or flicker can trigger wandering. Avoid the fear factor and choose less alarming pieces like smiling jack-o-lanterns, corn stocks, gourds and fall flowers.
  • Don’t Rearrange: If your loved one lives with you, don’t rearrange your home to make room for seasonal decorations. Keep porch pumpkins and mums up on tables, ensure hallways and stairs are clear and avoid dim, spooky lighting to reduce the risk of falls. Keep this in mind for all holiday decorating.
  • Start New Traditions: There are lots of ways to include your loved one in Halloween festivities. Depending on the stage of the disease, you may just need to adapt and assist. Packing treat bags for trick-or-treaters, seasonal crafts, painting pumpkins, baking pies or decorating sugar cookies can all be fun and safe ways to celebrate the season together.
  • Watch for Trick-or-Treaters: Never leave an adult with dementia home alone on Halloween. If your loved one isn’t overwhelmed by the ringing doorbell, excited children and parade of costumes, hand out candy together. If it’s clearly confusing and disorienting, keep them busy in another area of the home. Depending on your neighbourhood, you may also consider leaving candy on the porch for trick-or-treaters to serve themselves.
  • Keep Candy Away: Don’t leave your Halloween treats accessible. People with dementia can forget that they’ve had candy, eat too much and get quite sick. Sugary foods have also been proven to increase symptoms, so store snacks in a safe place.

With some adjustments and preparations, Halloween can be a fun and special time together. If you need extra help taking care of your loved one this Halloween, contact VHA’s Enterprise Health Solutions team for support.