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Trick or Treat! Halloween and the elderly

October 22, 2019



Once an enjoyable holiday for your elderly loved one, Halloween can now be a stressful experience for them as they age. While they may have thoroughly enjoyed handing out candy to the neighborhood kids in years past, the sights and sounds of trick-or-treat night can be scary and disorienting for seniors, especially if they experience sundowning or have dementia or Alzheimer's. And for those who live alone, this can be a particularly challenging evening. That's where you come in! Yes, it's important to spend time with your loved ones on holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, or Christmas. But it's equally important to be there with them on Halloween.


The sounds


What might otherwise be a quiet night on the block, on Halloween there are scores of children traversing past the house, squealing with delight and screaming with mock horror at the scary yard decorations in the neighborhood. 


These sounds can be quite disturbing to a senior sitting alone in their house. To cut back on the noise if they're not going to be handing out treats, consider playing soothing music through headphones (if they'll wear them). Or turn on a favorite movie or television show and turn up the volume. In some cases, you can simply remove their hearing aids.


The sights


While ghostly figures of the past were small children covered by a white sheet, ghoulish costumes have morphed into something much more graphic. Yes, there are still princesses and firemen, but mixed in with them are some fairly frightening costumes... especially to someone living alone who may already be fearful.

Imagine your confused loved one opening the door only to be face-to-face with a teenager covered in stage blood. This is one of the many scenarios you want to avoid.


Keep in mind, in many cases it's no longer neighborhood kids going to door-to-door in search of treats. Depending on the area, dozens of kids from other neighborhoods are dropped off to trick-or-treat at houses of total strangers. It wasn't that way when your folks were young.


Which brings us to another issue: 


The cost


Giving out Halloween candy can be quite expensive and many seniors on fixed incomes simply can't afford it. And some kids can get downr