Forget about the dark, the walking dead, and other creatures of the supernatural: Some of the scariest things about Halloween don’t wear a costume.


Halloween is probably the only time when we cheerfully throw open our doors, at night, to dozens of masked strangers.  Seniors who live alone, or those caring for a senior with dementia or Alzheimer’s in the home, may need to take special precautions on the most spirited night of the year.


Be afraid of the dark. When you don’t want to participate in Halloween traditions, it’s common to turn off interior and exterior lights to discourage trick or treaters from knocking on your door. But it could encourage vandals, who may take this as a sign that your house is empty and therefore fair game.


If you are handing out treats, keep the exterior of your home brightly lit. This helps prevent injury for both you and the hordes of excited children in costumes with trailing capes, vision-restricting masks, and fake swords rushing to your door. It also discourages potential tricksters, who won’t be inclined to make mischief if they can be seen.


But beware of fire. Use flameless votives in jack-o-lanterns.


Take it outside. Parcel out treats on the porch. Never let anyone inside your front door.


There’s safety in numbers. Ask a younger person or a neighbor to assist you in passing out treats.


Get in the spirit, but don’t get hurt. Keep stairs, walkways, and hallways clear of decorations that could pose a tripping hazard. Avoid window decorations that block your view of the outside.


Don’t treat yourself –  too much. It’s easy to dip into the jack-o-lantern yourself between trick-or-treaters or when you have too many Snickers left over, but remember: too much sugar and chocolate is just as bad for a sixty-year-old as it is for a six-year-old.


If you are caring for a senior with dementia or Alzheimer’s:


The thumping at the door, bursts of laughter and excited shrieks, the presence of mysterious masked figures, the unusual activity after dark—all this can be upsetting for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Plan a quiet evening with activities such as soothing music or a movie in a room far away from the front door and all the action.  Or take your loved one out for a visit, returning home after the Halloween festivities are concluded for the night.


With a little care, Halloween can be a real treat for seniors.

Halloween Senior Safety

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