Every person’s journey with Dementia is different, and differences among each experience are important to note because this scenario will not affect everyone in the same way.
Dementia can most certainly cause people to lose their ability to process new information, resulting in some people living with dementia having a negative response to Halloween.
Because we typically celebrate Halloween with scary decorations, costumes, and other activities that aren’t part of their normal daily routine, Halloween can understandably cause a variety of behavioural problems.
As you can imagine, the world can be confusing at times for people with Dementia, causing them to misinterpret what’s happening around them. Add spooky decorations and carved pumpkins with candles throwing shadows, the threat may seem more real than ever.
These environmental changes may be absorbed by your loved one as if it was happening in their OWN home. They may become agitated or stressed and rightfully so. Any change in behaviour can create a lot of stress for both your loved one and yourself, as the caregiver.
If you worry that your loved one may have an adverse response to activities and events which Halloween brings, then try your best to avoid them. This can be extremely hard when we see Halloween everywhere!
We have put together some tips to help with the welfare of your loved ones this Halloween and to help keep them safe.
Keep decorations to a minimum they may cause confusion and agitation. Decorations that change the look of the house may lead to anxiety and confusion.
Avoid those scary decorations that are voice-activated. People with dementia have been known to wander in response to Halloween decorations that scream or talk.
Avoid flashlights, candles and light-up pumpkins. The eerie glow they cast can lead to high anxiety.
So that children won’t keep ringing the doorbell and frightening your loved one, place sweets outside with instructions for trick or treaters, to say “Please take one.”, you can also leave the porch light off to discourage trick-or-treating.
Monitor television shows your loved one is watching during the Halloween season to screen out any that are too frightening or gory – Use parental control functions.
If you notice your parent or senior loved one is getting upset, move them away from the environment or situation that is causing the anxiety, confusion or fear.
If you are out and about with your loved one, observe them closely and continue to watch for signs of agitation especially if there is Halloween activity present.
Plan some quiet activities such as looking at family photo albums, reading or another favourite activity, to keep your loved one’s focus on something pleasant.
Play some familiar, soothing music and offer a favourite drink or snack as a distraction.
If your loved one enjoys getting involved in some of the Halloween festivities, why not try pumpkin carving and be sure to provide ongoing supervision.
Our Wayfinding Team are always here to help but adjusting and educating ourselves is for some the first step on the journey. Offering free advice and guidance for your whole dementia journey, even from before you have a formal diagnosis. The Wayfinders can also sign post to other services we work with to provide holistic, person-centred support.
If you have concerns about your loved one's memory, you can contact our Wayfinders on 01243 888691. They can support you and your loved ones for your whole journey with dementia, from pre-diagnosis to end of life care.