Halloween Safety Tips for Seniors with Dementia

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Dementia changes an older adult’s perception of the world. Things they once enjoyed might now confuse and frighten them. Halloween is a perfect example. Your elderly parent may have truly loved having costumed children come to their door for trick or treating. Now, though, they may not realize the children are wearing costumes and be frightened because they cannot separate fantasy from reality. Before Halloween arrives, it’s a good idea to think about how you’ll handle the holiday and what will work best for keeping your parent with dementia safe. Below are some tips to help.

Know Your Parent’s Needs

The first step in getting ready for Halloween is to know what your parent can handle, what they will enjoy, and what could frighten or confuse them. Whether your parent will still enjoy seeing children in costume could depend on what stage of dementia they are in. Early and even middle stage dementia sufferers might find the costumes fun and enjoy handing out candy. However, if your parent has become sensitive to sounds, hearing the doorbell ring over and over might irritate them to the point of anger.

Have a Quiet Room Available

Perhaps your parent started the evening enjoying the festivities but as the evening wore on and they got tired, and now they’re feeling agitated and out of sorts. Having a quiet room away from the front of the house where they can be away from the action. Someone may need to sit with them, so be sure to have an extra caregiver on hand.

Consider Leaving a Bowl of Candy at the Door

If you want to participate in trick or treating but know your parent will be bothered by it, you could just leave a bowl of candy at the door and a note asking children to take a piece. Yes, you run the risk of having greedy trick or treaters taking handfuls at a time, but at least you tried! Another option is to have someone sit outside the front door with the bowl of candy and hand it out without kids needing to ring the doorbell. Meanwhile, a family caregiver can sit with your parent in another room.

Choose Decorations Wisely

It may be best to avoid scary Halloween decorations and opt for cute and fun ones instead. Again, it can be hard for seniors with dementia to separate reality from fantasy, so they may think scary decorations are real. Also, don’t use real candles to light jack o’ lanterns. The open flame could pose a danger to your parent. Use battery operated candles instead.

Use Senior Care

Senior care is an excellent way to allow older adults with dementia to participate in Halloween to the extent of their abilities without compromising the rest of the family’s experience. If your parent can’t handle trick or treating or just needs a break, a senior care provider can take them to a quiet part of the house and keep them company. Senior care providers can also do Halloween activities with your parent leading up to the holiday to allow them to celebrate, too. For example, a senior care provider can help your parent bake pumpkin shaped cookies, fill treat bags for trick or treaters, or decorate the house.


If you or an aging loved one is considering senior care in Leesburg, VA, please contact the caring staff at Assisting Hands today. (703) 982-0050.