New York, NY (WOAY) – In anticipation of Halloween, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) has safety tips for family caregivers to protect loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related illnesses.
- 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 with dementia and could cause them to wander away, even from their home. Fake skeletons, cobwebs, witches, and monsters, even if non-interactive, can also be upsetting and scary.
- Help the person relax. Halloween is full of distractions and stimuli, which can upset or frighten someone living with dementia. Instead, play relaxing music, engage in a quiet activity such as reading a book together, and provide soothing reassurance: all these are ways to help decrease agitation or distress.
- Adapt the celebration. Give your loved one healthy snacks, such as fruit, instead of candy. Too much sugar intake could increase agitation. Reminisce by looking at old family pictures of Halloween events or watching a non-threatening program about Halloween if they seem to want to participate.
- Don’t leave your loved one alone to give out candy. Having costumed strangers continually knocking on the door could be frightening, confusing, and 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 or arrange for the person to go to a relative or friend’s house to engage with trick-or-treaters.
- Keep the lights. A dark home gives the impression that no one is inside, making it more inviting for burglars or vandals. Have interior and exterior lights on. Keep candy outside the door for trick-or-treaters with a sign that says “Please Take One.”
Families with questions about caring for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease can contact AFA’s Helpline at 866-232-8484 or visit www.alzfdn.org to speak with a licensed social worker.