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5 Ways to Have a Safe Halloween with Family & Residents with Dementia

Every year pumpkins and spider webs, ghosts, and ghouls appear in October. While many people enjoy decorating for Halloween and wearing costumes, these changes can be difficult for people with forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Some aspects of Halloween can be confusing or distressing and lead the person to become agitated enough to want to leave their home. The changes in routine, surprise visitors, and decorations can make it difficult to separate reality from fantasy.

We have compiled a list of suggestions from different organizations, like Alzheimer’s Foundation of America and Alzheimer’s Universe to help make Halloween a safe holiday for our relatives, neighbors, and residents in senior living communities:

  1. Reduce or skip indoor Halloween decorations, especially flashing lights and loud noises. Fake skeletons, witches, or monsters can be visually distressing.
  2. Don’t leave them alone to give out candy. Plan to be with them during trick-or-treating hours to hand out candy and reassure them if they come agitated.
  3. If they don’t wish to hand out candy, leave the home lights on, put a bowl of candy out for trick-or-treaters, and turn the porch light off to minimize doorbell rings. A dark home may give the impression that no one is home.
  4. Don’t let any trick or treaters in the home unless you know them. Harmless-looking people may be scoping out homes to return to later with bad intentions.
  5. Help them relax by playing some soft music and plan a quiet activity they enjoy if they become distressed. Use a calming voice to reassure them and they are safe.

Resources: Families or caregivers with questions about caring for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease can reach out to these organizations with phone helplines:


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