Are you enjoying the Halloween season? Halloween isn't just for kids! Home caregivers and seniors can enjoy this spooky holiday, as well. But some seniors may need extra company or help this time of year. Halloween can be scary, especially for seniors who have dementia or who live alone.
These home care tips will help make Halloween full of treats and absent of tricks for seniors and home caregivers alike.
1. Put up festive — but non-scary — decorations.
Decorations are a great way to celebrate the holidays and the changing seasons. For seniors who enjoy being creative, making Halloween decorations can also be a fun art project. Art projects have the additional benefit of improving cognitive skill and memory function. Need some inspiration? Here are some decorations that seniors can either make with their home caregivers, friends, or family members.
Carve jack-o’-lanterns. Or if seniors struggle to use a sharp knife safely, paint designs on pumpkins or gourds instead.
Go on a nature walk and gather bright autumn leaves. Turn the leaves into a collage or arrangement.
Make spider decorations out of pipe cleaners. You can also use cotton balls or cotton batting to make cobwebs.
Use construction paper to make cutouts of ghosts or black cats.
Keep in mind that seniors who have dementia might get spooked by scary decorations. In a situation like this, pretty painted gourds or seasonal wreaths are good choices for sprucing up the house.
2. Enjoy Halloween-themed snacks.
Food is a great way to get into the Halloween spirit. And while candy is a classic Halloween treat, there are also plenty of other snacks that will help seniors enjoy the holiday. Ideas include:
Halloween-themed sugar cookies
Baked goods made with apple or pumpkin
Spiced apple cider
"Spiders" made from chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks
Seniors who aren't easily scared might also enjoy whipping up some more ghoulish treats, like jell-o brains, open-faced "eyeball" sandwiches made with olives, or treats covered in "blood" made with red food coloring.
If diabetes is a concern, healthy treats of seasonal autumn foods such as pumpkin seeds and apples are good choices.
3. Consider encouraging seniors to dress up.
Plenty of people of all ages like dressing up on Halloween. Many seniors will enjoy putting together their own costume or trying out a new look for the occasion. Some seniors might want to plan and shop for their costume ahead of time, while others might be content just to put on a wig or some costume jewelry on Halloween night. Of course, if a senior doesn't want to dress up for Halloween, don't make them — it's supposed to be fun, not a burden.
If you’re a home caregiver, consider dressing up yourself as a way to help your clients get into a festive Halloween mood. Just be sure to choose a costume that isn’t scary.
4. Keep seniors company on Halloween night.
It's best for seniors to not be alone on Halloween. Unfortunately, vandals and troublemakers sometimes roam the streets on Halloween night, and a senior living alone could become the target of vandalism or a break-in. There's safety in numbers, so ideally a home caregiver or a family member should be present with seniors on Halloween night.
Besides the risks of being home alone, some seniors — especially those with dementia — might get spooked by all the unusual activity on Halloween. Strange noises, children in costumes, or knocks at the door can be frightening for people who get easily confused. These seniors will probably feel safer when someone they know and trust is in the house with them.
4. Make sure the house is well-lit.
On Halloween night, seniors should keep their houses well-lit. It's best to keep the lights on outside as well as inside, but for seniors who aren't planning to hand out candy, it's okay to turn off the outside light during trick-or-treating hours. A well-lit house makes it obvious that somebody is at home, so vandals are less likely to try to cause any trouble.
5. Decide ahead of time whether passing out candy is a good idea.
Some seniors might love handing out treats to all the neighborhood kids in their costumes. Others might find it scary or overwhelming. It's best for seniors and their' family members or home caregivers to decide ahead of time whether handing out candy is a good idea. One alternative to standing on the porch all evening is to leave a bowl of candy out for trick-or-treaters. Include a sign that says, "Please take one," and check on the bowl midway through the evening to see if it needs refilling.
6. Avoid using candles.
Candles are popular Halloween decorations, but they may not be a good idea for seniors. Even small candles can start a fire if they're forgotten, left unattended, or knocked over. Outdoor candles can also be hazardous for trick-or-treaters. Skip the candles on Halloween, or consider using electric candles instead.
7. Have distractions planned for seniors with dementia.
Halloween can be difficult to ignore, especially in a neighborhood full of boisterous children. It's smart to have some distractions on hand in case seniors with dementia get upset or scared by all the commotion. Watching a favorite movie, playing a simple game, or making an art project are several ideas for distracting activities. Comfortable headphones are useful for blocking out unwanted noises.
8. Don't let seniors eat too much candy.
For most people, it's fine to have a piece or two of candy on Halloween. Too much candy, though, can give seniors a stomach ache or the jitters. Seniors who have diabetes or who must follow special dietary restrictions can also get sick from eating candy. If you care for a senior who can't eat candy, make sure to have some healthier snacks like apple slices on hand for them.
Home Care Tips for Halloween Fun
Halloween can be an exciting time, but it's important to make sure seniors enjoy the occasion just as much as everybody else. Sometimes seniors might find Halloween festivities a little scary, and troublemakers occasionally decide to target seniors on Halloween night. A family member or a home caregiver can make the holiday more enjoyable for seniors. These home care tips will help you keep Halloween safe and fun for the seniors in your care.