Halloween and the elderly

Halloween can be a fun, exciting time for many people including younger children and families. It is a chance to dress up in a spooky costume, apple bob and play games. The Government has suggested trick or treating can take place as long as local restrictions are followed. However, Brighton and Hove City Council have advised the community against trick or treating as people cannot “afford to be complacent or take risks”. You must check with your local council regulations to see if there have been any updates. Going out or not, we would suggest being mindful of the elderly community as Halloween can be a daunting and distressing time for them.

Why can Halloween be a problem? Well, some people behave in a thoughtless way towards others; knocking on doors then running away, participating in tricks (egg throwing) when a treat hasn’t been received and disrupting streets late into the evening.

Not everyone is able to understand why there are sudden changes and different behaviours at this time of year. For the elderly, the high volumes of noise outside their home, the costumes and the amount of activity on the street could be very disorientating. Someone living with dementia or Alzheimer’s may be confused about what all the excitement means, imagining something terrible is happening. It could induce a sleepless night, full of stress and anxiety which could ultimately be very psychologically damaging for those who (quite rightly) see their home as a ‘safe place’.

  • We have some tips for the elderly who may find Halloween distressing:
  • Always check who is at the door before opening it – you can look through the curtains or spyhole. If it makes you feel safer, keep the chain on the door.
  • Take care if you have to go down steps or round obstacles.
  •  Only open the door if you feel like it is safe to do so. Do not open the door if you feel afraid.
  • Keep socially distanced from whoever is on the doorstep.
  • If you feel particularly anxious about the evening, invite a friend or family to stay with you.

If you decide to go trick or treating with your family or friends, do try to remember some of the elderly community may not want to be disturbed. If there isn’t a pumpkin outside the house, a front light on, or any decorations it is best to leave the property and move on. There are plenty of other Halloween-related games you can play with your family which are also ‘Covid friendly’ such as:

  • A Halloween treasure hunt in your own house
  • Pumpkin carving
  • Watching a scary movie with popcorn and treats
  • Decorating your house and doing a ‘spooky trail’
  • We hope everyone has a great Halloween! Stay safe. 

At Home Instead, we accompany many families through a tough journey of deteriorating physical and/or mental health of those who are ageing to make it as easy as possible for everyone. We’ve acquired a lot of experience and knowledge along the way and want to share it with you so that you are prepared and fully understand your options. If you would like to speak to someone at Home Instead Brighton, please don’t hesitate to get in touch - you can call Liz Brackley on 01273 284090 or email [email protected].