Halloween can be a scary time for people with dementia. Here’s how you can help

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By Cara Murez

Health Day Reporter

THURSDAY, October 27, 2022 (HealthDay News) — When there are suddenly spooky decorations and lots of strangers knocking on the door, Halloween can be scary for someone with dementia.

It’s possible to keep a loved one living with the condition calm and safe while also including that family member in the quiet celebration of the holiday, experts say.

“As with many other traditions, there are adjustments families can make to help ensure their loved ones living with dementia have a safe and happy Halloween,” said Jennifer Reeder, director of educational and social services for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

“We encourage caregivers to follow a few quick and easy steps to keep the ‘Happy’ in ‘Happy Halloween’ on October 31,” Reeder said in a foundation press release.

The foundation’s experts suggest customizing the celebration by recalling past Halloween costumes or activities while looking at old family pictures. Watch a harmless program about Halloween.

Give your loved one healthy snacks, such as fruit. Too much candy can increase excitement.

For some, it may be possible for a loved one with dementia to give out sweets to trick-or-treating, but never leave the person alone when doing this, which could be scary, confusing and a safety hazard, the foundation suggests.

Try playing soothing music, engaging in a quiet activity, such as B. reading a book together, or offering soothing reassurance.

Minimize stress by avoiding potentially spooky decorations like fake skeletons, cobwebs, witches, and monsters. It’s especially important to avoid contact with interactive decorations that talk or scream when someone walks by, or have flashing or flickering lights. These can be frightening and cause someone with dementia to migrate, even from their own home.

Stay safe with lights on inside and outside the home so burglars and vandals don’t think the home is empty, the foundation suggests. Another option for sweets is to leave a bowl in front of the door with a sign saying “Please take one”.

The AFA Helpline at 866-232-8484 or through the website www.alzfdn.org offers an opportunity to speak with a licensed social worker seven days a week.

More information

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on dementia.

SOURCE: Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, press release, October 24, 2022

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