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 night time 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 much 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.
Halloween can be tweaked and personalized to communicate a meaningful updated ritual. Both you and your loved one will enjoy the current anticipation as you tap into a positive memory of past celebrations. Make decorations together to maximize the occasion. Art therapy provides positive stimulation and creative self-expression. And while you are coloring and pasting, play music in the background, preferably from your loved one’s time period, for happiness synergy.