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Celebrating Halloween in an inclusive way for elderly Friends and Family

It's the season to get spooky and put up our much loved orange and autumn themed decorations, cooking our favourite seasonal pumpkin flavoured dishes and- especially importantly for the kids using the 31st to collect as many sweets and treats as possible dressed in their spooky best!

While Halloween can be a really fun season for everyone involved, it can unfortunately come with added stress for some. Particularly with the increase in the use of fireworks at parties, the unpredictable knocking at doors for festive trick or treaters which can feel unpredictable and sometimes make people feel on edge. Particularly those struggling with conditions such as PTSD, Dementia, social anxiety and more.

Particularly for elderly loved ones the Halloween season can be a time of discomfort. So we thought it would be helpful to put together some tips on how to celebrate the festive season while keeping the comfort of others in mind, so that everyone can enjoy the season in a way that feels reassuring, safe and inclusive- without discouraging people from celebrating a much loved tradition.

1 - Trick or Treat at welcome properties

Whilst it's broadly encouraged and welcomed at many addresses, some houses don't wish to participate in trick or treating. You should always respect this and can demonstrate courtesy when trick or treating. Avoid trick or treating at houses that haven't been decorated and don't appear to be expecting trick or treaters- often people that don't participate in Halloween won't decorate their property so this is a good rule of thumb to follow.

Inform your children of the importance of demonstrating courtesy around trick or treating and to respect properties that don't participate, often ones that don't are usually on grounds of religion, or not feeling comfortable answering doors to strangers. This can be particularly true for people who have had bad experiences before when answering the door to strangers which can make people feel vulnerable and fearful of it. There are some really good apps available with Trick or Treat maps on them that show you houses in your location that are participating this Halloween, to help you plan your Trick or Treating journey ahead of time.

2 - Remind loved ones that it is Halloween

Often loved ones forget that the season is coming up. It's no longer the forefront of the media especially compared to previous years as it can often be over shadowed by Christmas. Many elderly people may therefore forget the date is coming up. Particularly those struggling with memory issues or early onset dementia.

Putting reminders in place can make the season feel less frightening and help them to know to expect the potential of people knocking at the door throughout the evening. Knowing to expect this as a possibility can really help loved ones to feel reassured and safer when it happens.

You may find it helps to encourage your loved one to ring you if they have any worries, so they know they can reach out to you if something doesn't feel right. An extra hand of reassurance can really go a long way.

3- Offer companionship

Consider offering to sit with an elderly person this Halloween. Being there in person to offer companionship to prevent elderly loved ones feeling lonely while parties and unfamiliar noise may be happening around them can really help to comfort them.

Being there with them can also act as a really good mechanism of reassurance, being on hand to help explain anything unfamiliar around them and remind them that this is a normal part of the holiday season.

4- Safety should always come first

Encourage your loved ones to only open their door if they feel safe to do so. Whilst Trick or treating is a normal part of Halloween it doesn't mean that there aren't risks when people are knocking at doors.

Remind loved ones to keep the chain on the door if they have one, check the spy hole first, and if they have any concerns or worries not to answer the door. Reassure them that it's not rude to ignore callers if they don't feel safe and prefer not to answer if it helps them to feel safe. Safety should always take priority and participating with trick or treaters is the choice of every person taking part. No one should feel obligated to do so if it causes feelings of worry or concern.

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