How to Support a Person with Dementia during Fireworks

For a person with dementia, loud noises can confuse, scare or trigger unwanted past memories. Here are some helpful tips w=to support them during Bonfire Night and fireworks.

Why are Fireworks Hard for People with Dementia?

Loud noises such as fireworks can scare and confuse a person with Dementia, they may bring up past memories or cause stress. Fireworks usually occur during Bonfire night, Diwali, New Year’s Eve and other festivals and events, as they are often used to mark an occasion.

Here’s how you can help a person with Dementia to enjoy bonfire night and other festivities, while keeping safe.

What Can we do to Help?

1 – Plan Ahead

Ahead of fireworks night and other festivities, let the person with dementia know it’s coming up. You may be able to gauge how they feel about the festivities and whether they’d like to be involved.

Some people with dementia may not want to be alone on fireworks night but also not wish to take part, so finding something you can do together may help.

Speak to neighbours about their plans too. If they’re setting off fireworks nearby, this may be distressing for someone with dementia. The person may prefer to go somewhere else for a while.

2 – Attend a Professional Event

If they wish to be involved in the festivities, a planned, professional event is best. Some events may even include a low noise firework display. or shows purposely for those not wanting a huge crowd. Official events also adhere to strict fire and safety regulations, including marshals to help and first aid if needed.

3 – Be Comfortable

At the event help the person with dementia feel more comfortable. Too much activity, loud noises, sudden movements or an uncomfortable environment can hinder how they feel. If it does get too much, it’s good to have someone on hand to take the person inside, to a quieter area, or home again.

The person you’re caring for may feel cold far more than you do but may not realise it, or may be unable to tell you. Encourage wearing layers of clothing, drinking hot beverages and not staying outside for too long. Some people may also benefit from wearing ear defenders or ear plugs to dampen the noise.

4 – Find an Alternative

If the person wants to celebrate, but not attend a fireworks event, there are lots of ways to enjoy this. Use some sparklers in a safe space outside the home, or watch the displays from a distance or inside the house, so you can enjoy the fireworks without loud noises or crowds. You could also watch displays on television or online.

A bonfire night dinner is also a fun way to celebrate the occasion. Cooking favourite foods such as jacket potatoes, spring rolls, curries or hotdogs, can help evoke joyful memories of fireworks night.

5 – Avoid Fireworks Altogether

Fireworks are not for everyone and that’s okay. If the person is distressed by the noise or bright flashes, think about alternative activities you can enjoy together such as closing the curtains and enjoying films, audiobooks or music.

Provide reassurance by talking calmly and providing touch or hugging, if the person is distressed.