Halloween can be a great holiday for some but overwhelming for others, particularly those with dementia, seniors & the elderly. One way to mitigate that is to change the focus, creating engagement through Halloween activities for dementia, seniors & the elderly.
We need to find Halloween activities for dementia that are safe, fun and engaging and pick the right time to do them. We want to avoid times like when sundowning issues may occur and heighten their anxiety. Try activities earlier in the day that can involve the kids as well. They are usually a source of happiness for most of our loved ones!
People with dementia may have difficulty with visual perceptions, sounds, spatial awareness etc. You can find ideas and tips on creating a safer environment by checking out this article – 13 Tips for a Safe Halloween for Dementia Caregivers.
Remember to give your loved ones time and space, allow them to mess up, be patient and if they don’t want to take part, so be it; then find something else they’ll enjoy more. But for those looking for ideas for Halloween Activities for dementia, then read on!
1. No Carve Pumpkin Ideas
Pumpkins are a staple at Halloween, but sharp knives are not a good mix, so we can always just decorate the pumpkin without carving it. So many ways to do it, painting, using stick-on pieces, wrapping with materials, tights, lace etc., adding features like tinsel hair, drawing on eyes and a mouth etc., or using household items like tin foil to create a personalised pumpkin etc. In this video are some ideas on how to decorate a no carve pumpkin this October for one of many fun Halloween activities for dementia:-
2. DIY Halloween Treat Bags
Why not make your own trick-or-treat bags and fill them – be careful they are not eaten as they are made or become a choking hazard if they have swallowing issues!
3. DIY Halloween Decorations
Making your own Halloween decorations can help save money, engage your loved ones, and remove any fear they may have of them. You could even start a convey belt of creating decorations where a person takes control of one part of it, like drawing out the shapes, cutting the card, colouring in etc.
Why not get the kids and your loved one to help and prepare non-scary hanging decorations, like bunting in Halloween colours, making paper chains, or simply helping blow up balloons?
4. Halloween Art
Prepare arts and crafts for Halloween, like pipe stick figures or paintings of pumpkins, using autumn leaves as stencils or creating a collage etc. These can all help those with dementia, seniors, and the elderly activate their brains, help with hand and eye coordination and connect with tactile materials.
It can help those with various forms of dementia like Alzheimer’s, so why not try getting the paints out, glitter, and tactile materials to make your own Halloween posters working together, having fun and making a mess? Or simply print off free Halloween colouring pages to colour in together.
5. Halloween Games
Playing simple games like Halloween Bingo, Halloween Word Search, and Halloween I spy as a family can help distract, engage and be a lot of fun, depending on how your loved one feels about games as one of the Halloween activities for dementia!
You can download this free Halloween Word Sheet and Answer sheet PDF.
6. Decorating Cupcakes/Cookies
Baking is a popular pastime during Halloween. You can make Halloween-themed cookies and cupcakes by decorating them with Halloween colours. This is something that those with dementia, seniors and the elderly can do sitting down.
Why not make life easier and just buy the cupcakes, skip the baking and get straight onto the decorating? You can purchase ready-filled pipping bags, get assorted coloured sprinkles, etc. Here are a few simple ideas for decorating cupcakes in the video below.
7. Virtual Get Together
If your loved one can’t be with you and you want to keep them reassured. Get together a zoom, facetime, duo, or echo show party and share tales of your past Halloweens or what you used to do as kids.
It would be even better if they could wear headphones to drown out the sounds outside the home and suggest they put up a no trick or treat poster if they don’t want to be disturbed.
8. Get Out Into Nature
Get out of the house – go for a walk, collect the falling leaves, chestnuts or conkers, pines, small branches etc.
Go on a scavenge hunt somewhere easier to walk without fear of falling and accessible by wheelchair/mobility aids. Just getting out can help with sundowning later, and you’ll have collected things you can use to make things.
Simple things like sorting out sweets/ candy and helping with sewing pieces on a DIY Halloween costume can be activities that can be purposeful for someone with dementia.
Always check on your loved one and ensure they are still enjoying the activities. If they show signs of being overwhelmed or distressed, then change the activity & location, move to a smaller room with fewer people and pull out an old photo album.
Start reminiscing about their past to help lower their anxiety, and maybe bring in a fidget cushion or blanket to settle their hands or a dementia doll if they have one.
Whatever you decide to do this Halloween, remember to make those Halloween activities for dementia, seniors & the elderly fun!