Halloween and the fall holiday seasons are big commercial events. Way before the holiday happens, we see the upcoming holiday in stores, advertisements and celebratory events everywhere we look. I had many Loved Ones in my life who LOVED Halloween just as much as Christmas. Even if your Loved One has dementia or isn’t well, please do what you can to celebrate Halloween with them! Here are some suggestions for different circumstances.
Decorate their Room
Whether your Loved One is in a facility or in your home, a month or so before the next holiday, be sure to find some themed holiday decorations for whichever holiday is coming up. Decorate their room with fun things (nothing scary!) from the Dollar Store or other discount store. You don’t have to spend much money to get some great decorations. Be sure to get a Command strip hook for their door and put a festive wreath on the outside and the inside of their bedroom door. Then just store them in a dry, safe place at your home or even under their bed in a storage container that fits.
If you have a little extra money, then get some festive holiday hand towels for their bathroom. Change their bed linens and bath towels to the colors of the season. Sometimes you can even find fun sheets like the Peanuts characters holiday themed sheets.
- Autumn colors of reds, browns, and gold in the fall.
- Blue and gold if they celebrate Hanukkah.
- Of course, red and green and red and gold for the Christmas season.
- Winter months can be shades of cool blues to represent snow.
- Then pinks and reds for Valentines Day.
- Green for St. Patrick’s Day,
- Pastels if your Loved One celebrates Easter.
- And of course, red, white, and blue for Independence Day.
After each holiday just wash and store things in a closet, drawer or storage area.
Have Children Visit
If they are at a facility, and you have children that are dressing up for Halloween, then give the kids a second opportunity to dress up! They will LOVE it!! If you have extra seats in your car, have them invite their friends and fill up your car with kids in costumes and go visit your Loved One in the facility! If your Loved One does not have dietary restrictions, then bring them a goody bag of Halloween candy and silly themed toys from the Dollar Store.
Be sure to take LOTS of pictures as this will be an event that is remembered for years to come. If you and the kids are willing – ask the facility if you can take your Loved in a wheelchair and go visit their friends or have a little parade in the common areas. Very few things bring joy to people as much as happy kids. You will lift up many other residents as well as your Loved One.
Hand Out Candy With Your Loved One
If your Loved One lives with you, and you give out candy on Halloween then let them have the fun of seeing all the kids in their costumes. If you have a front porch, then have them sit out front with the candy on a side table so they can greet everyone and have fun talking with the kids. If you don’t have a porch then have them stationed in the entryway and invite the kids to come in just a little ways so that your Loved One can see their costumes and say hi and pass out candy, or have it on a small table nearby.
Even if your Loved One has dementia, let’s start normalizing, including them in everything possible. If they are non-verbal but content to sit then just stay with them as the kids come for the candy and smile at the kids so they know not to worry. It is so important that we teach children that our Loved Ones who have dementia can still have a place in our lives and can be a part of the fun even if they can no longer communicate.
If there was a traditional meal during the holidays when you were growing up, then, if possible, make that meal for your Loved One. If they are close, bring it to them where they live, or if they live far away, find a restaurant that makes it, and have it delivered.
Make it more special:
- Get enough for 2 people so they can invite a friend to dinner to enjoy it with them.
- If there are funds, then have the facility reserve their conference room and have a restaurant or caterer deliver the meals for your Loved One and a few of their friends.
- If you have the time and want to make the meal yourself that is always appreciated!
Want extra credit? If money is not an issue, then find out how many Staff are working that night and make or order enough so that they can enjoy a lovely holiday meal while they are working and away from their families.
All these things can bring your Loved Ones great amounts of joy and make them feel Loved and included. These different activities allow them to feel involved and play a role in the holiday instead of just watching it go by without decorations, or special foods and traditions.
Even if your Loved One has dementia I want you to do as many of these things as you are able and can afford. Your Loved One who no longer speaks is still in there somewhere. Somewhere inside they feel the Love you give them when you go out of your way to include them and make the holiday come alive for them. Even if they cannot tell you how much they appreciate you verbally, they may be able to smile, or you may see a spark in their eyes.
If no one else gives you praise for making the effort to make each and every holiday special for your Loved One – I AM recognizing you and appreciate everything you are doing to make your Loved One feel Loved, included, and celebrated.