Dealing With Dementia

There’s certainly no age limit in experiencing and enjoying the fun of Halloween! Seniors typically are thrilled by visits from trick-or-treaters, and the opportunity to enjoy fall treats and fun decorations. Nonetheless, if a loved one is dealing with dementia, certain components of the Halloween season could be downright distressing. Suddenly, there are unexpected surprises, visitors, and changes to routine, and it can be tough to separate fantasy from reality.

Imagine, in your daily life, if Halloween was a foreign concept. You head into your favorite department store and are met by larger-than-life inflatables, glowing witches, ghosts, and spiders. In the aisle where you regularly find housewares, the shelves are packed instead with spooky masks, fake blood, and skeletons. Has the world gone mad?

Naturally, the confusion, anxiety, and fear inherent in dementia can be heightened at this time of year, and it’s essential for friends and family to take action to help loved ones maintain a sense of calm and routine. Alzheimer’s Universe offers the following suggestions:

  • Reduce decorations in the senior’s home, or bypass them altogether. In particular, those with blinking lights and loud noises could potentially cause the individual to become frightened enough to leave the home.
  • If trick-or-treaters could lead to anxiety for the older adult, leave a bowl of candy out on the porch with a note for kids to take one. Alternatively, turn the porch light off so families understand the home is not handing out candy this year.
  • If manageable and agreeable to the senior, visit a relative who lives in a rural area, free from trick-or-treaters for the evening.
  • If the older adult lives alone, make sure a family member, friend, or professional caregiver, like those at Hearts at Home In-Home Care, is readily available to stay with the individual.

If the older adult becomes distressed or agitated in spite of taking the safety measures above, try these pointers from the National Institute on Aging:

  • Help the older adult move into a different room for a diversion from the cause of agitation.
  • Talk in a quiet, calm voice, and let the senior know she or he is safe and that all is well.
  • Turn on soft music and bring out an activity that your senior loved one especially enjoys.

With a little advanced planning, individuals with dementia can stay relaxed and content throughout the Halloween season. The specially trained care team at Hearts at Home In-Home Care is always at hand to provide strategies to help with the countless complexities of dementia, and to partner with families with professional in-home care – as much or as little as needed, and consistently supplied with compassion, patience, and skill. Reach out to us at 913-440-4209 for more information about our top-rated elder care in Kansas City.