LANSING, Mich. — With Americans getting ready to celebrate Halloween, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is offering safety tips for family caregivers to protect their loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related illnesses.
“Like with many other traditions, there are adaptations families can make to help their relatives living with dementia have a safe and enjoyable Halloween,” said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA’s president & CEO. “We encourage caregivers to follow a few quick and easy steps to keep the ‘Happy’ in ‘Happy Halloween’ on October 31st.
AFA advises family caregivers to consider the following:
- Don’t leave your loved one alone to give out candy. Having strangers continually knocking on the door in costumes can potentially be frightening, confusing and/or disruptive to someone living with a dementia-related illness. It can also be a safety risk. If the person wants to participate in giving out candy, have someone there to help them or make arrangements for the person to go to a relative or friend’s house to engage with trick or treaters.
- Keep the lights on in your home. A dark home gives the impression that no one is inside, making it more inviting for burglars or vandals. Have interior and exterior lights lit. Keep candy outside your door for trick-or-treaters with a sign that says “Please Take One.”
- Don’t let trick or treaters inside: Unless the person knocking is someone you know well, do not invite trick or treaters into the home. Even someone accompanied by a young child asking to use the restroom or phone could be scoping out the home to come back later with criminal intent.
- Help the person relax: Halloween is full of distractions and stimuli, some of which can be upsetting or frightening to someone living with dementia. Playing soothing music, engaging in a quiet activity such as reading a book together and soothing reassurance are all ways to help the person if they become agitated.
- Avoid exposure to interactive decorations. Decorations that talk or scream when someone passes by, as well as those with flashing or flickering lights, can be frightening for someone living with dementia and lead them to wander away, even from their own home. Fake skeletons, cobwebs, witches and monsters, even if non-interactive, can also potentially be upsetting and scary.
Families who have questions about caring for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease can contact AFA’s Helpline at 866-232-8484 or through the Internet at www.alzfdn.org [alzfdn.org] to speak with a licensed social worker. The Helpline is open seven days a week.
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