Halloween is a delightful holiday for kids and those who are kids-at-heart. It’s a holiday that the whole family can participate in with spooky decorations and celebrations to make October a special time of year. There is no age limit on Halloween, so it can be just as fun (if not more) for seniors to celebrate!
Unfortunately, due to the global pandemic, many seniors have not celebrated Halloween these past few years because of their health. But this year, things are looking up, and many people, including seniors, are looking forward to celebrating the holiday with more normalcy. That said, seniors celebrating should still take additional measures to ensure their health and safety.
For example, jump-scares may be a hoot for younger audiences but could be detrimental to an older adult. And although vaccine rates are high, concerns and caution are still warranted for COVID-19 among seniors.
To help you and your loved one make the most out of fall, we’ve compiled a list of safe Halloween activities for seniors that the whole family can enjoy.
Halloween is for Everyone
Halloween is a fun holiday that, to some degree, is celebrated throughout the month of October. With so many fall-themed decorations and activities, there is plenty of opportunity to introduce excitement into your aging loved one’s life.
In its origin, Halloween dates back thousands of years to ancient Europe, where it was celebrated as a religious holiday among the Celtic people.
The Pagan festival of Samhain, which people still celebrate today, signaled the end of autumn and the start of winter. It was also a time when the Celtics would dress up in costumes to ward off spirits.
As traditions changed and spread throughout Europe, they began to take on the forms we recognize today. When settlers came to the United States, they opted to carve pumpkins instead of turnips. And modern series like the Peanuts and Disney helped make trick-or-treating the family-friendly American tradition we know and love today.
This Halloween, we encourage you to consider how these fun holiday traditions and activities can be modified to help seniors celebrate safely.
Seniors – Tricks for Celebrating
Let’s start with some fall-focused activities that are great for seniors to celebrate this spooky season.
Take a trip to the pumpkin patch
The pumpkin patch is a great place to spend an October afternoon. Many patches also have fun activities like apple picking and hayrides. Getting seniors out into the fresh air with the proper footwear and attire will benefit their health and provide a change of pace. Remember: while we may like to believe that our senior loved ones are just as able as they’ve been in the past, as they age, their mobility, balance, memory, and eyesight may not be what it used to be – so keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t overextend themselves, lift something too heavy, or trip on the various hazards.
Have a pumpkin decorating party
Not all seniors have the dexterity or strength to carve a pumpkin, and that’s okay. Use paints, cut-out felt pieces, glue, and anything else you think of to decorate your pumpkins.
Do some fun Halloween crafts
This list of Halloween crafts for seniors is fun and easy to try. They also make wonderful decorations you can reuse yearly or keep as a memory of the fun time spent together.
Make your own costumes
Look online for DIY Halloween costumes that are affordable and fun to assemble. A great place to start is thrift shopping, as stores such as Value Village have rows and rows of Halloween-appropriate pieces and already-made costumes. Consider a matching theme for the whole family! You can even buy some ultra-comfy matching PJs that are Halloween-themed.
Go on a fall foliage stroll
Take a walk through the neighborhood or visit a local park and appreciate all the beautiful autumn leaves.
Prepare treats for trick-or-treaters
Work with your loved one to assemble little goody bags for eager children on the night of the 31st. We advise seniors to wear a mask and take any other health precautions if they intend to hand out any treats directly.
Sort candy together
One of the best Halloween activities for seniors with dementia is sorting various mixed candies into different containers. This is also a fun exercise for small children learning to count.
Seniors — Treats for Celebrating
We all love Halloween candy, but its high sugar content and calorie count mean it’s best enjoyed in moderation. There are plenty of other delicious holiday treats you and your loved one can enjoy that are bursting with fall flavor.
This American classic can be adapted to meet the dietary needs of seniors using alternative recipes such as those considered low-sugar. These treats are not only delicious to eat, but they are also easy to assemble!
If your loved one needs more assistance in the kitchen, mini pumpkin pies are also a great alternative. Allow them to scoop filling into mini pie crusts before baking.
Grilled Cheese Jack-o-Lanterns
With whole wheat bread and low-fat cheese filled with healthy calcium and fats, these are delicious and adorable lunch and dinner options, perfect for making together.
Use a circular cookie cutter to carve your “pumpkin” out of the sandwich, then cut out smaller shapes for the face. You can assist a senior relative who has a more difficult time with fine motor skills.
Boil and peel eggs, remove the yolks, and use small pieces of black olives to add spooky little faces above the center. This creates a fun ghost-like effect – and by removing the yolk, this snack becomes lower in cholesterol.
The only thing scary about this dish is how delicious it is! This recipe will give your loved one plenty of healthy fats and folate. Create your haunted hummus by using this recipe to create your base, then add some finishing touches with dark olive toppers and shredded carrots for a black-and-orange motif that’s perfect for the season.
Enjoying Halloween Safely
The best way to have a happy Halloween is to keep everyone safe and happy. Keep areas well-lit and avoid decorations that impede visibility (such as window coverings) and potential fall hazards. And, be sure to inform seniors of the day’s events, including trick-or-treaters who may stop by.
To help seniors who plan to be out and about, place jack-o-lanterns and other decorations farther from doorways and steps to prevent trips and falls.
If you would like additional tips on senior health and safety, the Reflections Management and Care team is happy to help! Our expert senior care services aim to help seniors and their families lead happier, healthier lives. Please reach out to us today with any questions – whether spooky or not!