It’s nearly Halloween and we’ve rounded up a host of fun advice, activities and products to help you celebrate it with a loved one with Dementia.

While the popularity of Halloween is probably much bigger than it was in the days when your loved one with dementia was younger, that doesn’t mean they won’t have fun getting involved in the activities.

And while it’s important to think about what they might enjoy, and what they may struggle to either understand, or become agitated or scared about, it’s a great opportunity to engage them in activities that the whole family will enjoy.

Halloween activity inspiration

Trick or treating
If your loved one with dementia is still quite mobile, there’s no reason why they wouldn’t enjoy going trick or treating, especially if they’re accompanying grandchildren. Just watch out that any sweets that are handed out aren’t a choking hazard for them if they now struggle with chewing and swallowing.

Bobbing for apples
Rather than true bobbing, you can do a variation on this by providing apples in a bowl of water, and then getting your loved one to scoop them out with a spoon or ladle.

Strawberry ghouls
If the person you care for likes making things in the kitchen, you could get together to make strawberry ghouls. Simply hull a punnet of strawberries, put a cocktail stick in the wider end of the strawberry and then dip in melted white chocolate. Before the chocolate has fully set, add chopped up pieces of dark chocolate or raisin to create eyes and a nose. You could also use a tube of dark icing if that’s easier.

Spider web making
Bend black or white pipe cleaners into the shape of a star, with between six and eight ‘points’. Then using white or black wool, wind it around each of the ‘points’ in a circle to create a spider’s web. Add one final piece of wool to the top of the web and hang it from the window – spiders optional!

Four things to bear in mind

1. Dementia can cause confusion in the elderly, and so if you’re worried they may become startled by different decorations, it’s important to tone them down, or omit altogether. Take a few steps to lessen these anxieties by limiting decorations to those that are not looming or intimidating in the house.

2. If you’re having people around for a gather, keep the guest list small and low key if you’re worried your loved one will get agitated by too many people. If possible, opt instead for just a family party with only one or two guests.

3. Costumes should be limited if they cause agitation or confusion. Your loved one with dementia may not understand the concept or Halloween anymore or that people are “dressing up”. A good alternative is to have everyone wear brightly coloured Halloween t-shirts, but no masks or face-obscuring make-up.

4. If you're worried that your loved one will become confused by trick or treaters coming to the door repeatedly, it might be worth putting a sign up saying that the door will not be answered to them that evening. If the person you care for lives alone and may not remember to ignore them, you may want to see if you or a friend could spend the evening with them so they're not alone.

Top 4 products for Halloween

Talking Photo Album
This versatile photo album allows you to personalise its pages not only with images, but with audio messages as well! Use it as a tool to help your loved one remember their favourite Halloween traditions, or, if you’re feeling creative, why not record your own spooky stories?

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Active Minds 35 Piece Jigsaw - Autumn Market
Sure, costumes and horror stories can be fun, but Halloween can also be an opportunity to stimulate conversation and encourage your loved one to talk about their favourite season. The 35-piece Jigsaw Autumn Market is a great place to start. With uniquely shaped pieces and beautiful bright colours, it’s ideal to improve dexterity and exercise the brain. Invite a friend over for a great Halloween night without the spooks!

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Simple Music Player
Does your loved one have a favourite Halloween playlist? If so, upload it on our Simple Music Player and invite them for a dance! You can also upload their favourite Halloween audio-books for them to enjoy with a hot cup of hot chocolate – don’t forget to add some pumpkin spice, it’s autumn after all!

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Call to Mind Conversation Game
You could set up a ghoulish games night with a range of board games, including the brilliant Call to Mind Conversation Game, created by an occupational therapist with the aim of exercising your loved one’s senses, dexterity and speech.

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