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How to organize Halloween activities for Alzheimer’s patients

activities for Alzheimer'sThe tree leaves are now a beautiful mix of green, red and orange and the air feels cool and crisp. Pumpkins are everywhere.  Halloween is quickly approaching and signaling the start of fall and winter holidays. 

Many Alzheimer’s patients have fond memories of trick-or-treating as children, or celebrating Halloween with their children when they were young, and are looking forward to enjoying Halloween activities this year.

Before making any Halloween plans, see who wants to get involved, and who would rather sit this one out for cultural or religious reasons. While discussing the topic, if the seniors look uncomfortable, move on to another topic.

Tips to celebrate Halloween in a safe and fun way

🎃It’s best to avoid scary or gory decorations, and stick to pumpkins and fall decorations, such as apples, walnuts, and different color leaves. Use sharpies or other colored markers to draw faces on pumpkins rather than cutting the pumpkins with sharp utensils.

🎃Keep decorations such as pumpkins and chrysanthemums on tables rather than on the floor, where people can trip over them. 

🎃There is always a lot of candy around at Halloween. However, keep candy in a safe place! Some elderly patients have dietary restrictions, such as diabetes, that they may have forgotten about. 

🎃Bake and decorate pumpkin cookies, serve apple cider, or whip up some pumpkin spice lattes. It’s fun to prepare and to share these treats with the other residents.

🎃If the seniors want to give out candy, have them sit out on a chair in front of the house to give candy to trick-or-treaters, rather than having the doorbell ring nonstop. The constant ringing may make them nervous or disoriented.

🎃Be careful when rearranging furniture while decorating for Halloween.  It may confuse some Alzheimer’s patients to have their favorite armchair in a different part of the room. 

🎃Watch Halloween movies, but make sure not to choose anything scary.  Instead, choose something light and fun like “Hocus Pocus”, or maybe a classic horror movie from their youth. Ask what their favorite classic horror movie was as a child, and run a horror movie marathon.

🎃Have group conversations about how they decorated pumpkins or how they celebrated Halloween in their youth. Ask if they have any funny stories to share. Did they play funny tricks? Don’t put anyone on the spot, in case they don’t remember anything. Keep the conversation light and fun. 

🎃If senior living residents dress up for Halloween, have the other residents vote on the costume they liked best. Take pictures and put them up on the bulletin board to enjoy over the next few months.

Have fun and stay safe!

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