Halloween can often be a frightening time for older adults, not only because of their neighbors dressed as werewolves, mummies, and witches, but because the constant knocking and ringing by masked visitors could be unsettling regardless of their intent. According to 2016 data from Travelers Insurance, crime-related insurance claims spiked by 24% on Halloween, more than on any other day of the year.
On Halloween night, home owners – older adults included – see more unfamiliar faces than any other time of the year. Anyone who will be handing out candy that night has a responsibility to keep themselves and the ‘trick-or-treaters’ safe.
Here are a few tips to make this a safe Halloween:
Keep visitors outside – Use your front porch or garage to hand out candy instead of inviting guests inside. Even greeting guests at your front door still gives them the opportunity to peek inside. Consider staying on the front porch for a few hours (weather permitting) to pass out treats.
Leave the lights on – Even if you aren’t home, it’s a good idea to leave both internal and external lights on. While a dark house might discourage kids from knocking, it lets potential intruders know that your house could be empty.
Ask for help – Often, older adults can be stressed from handling Halloween home alone. Invite a younger family member or friend to help. “It may not be a happy time for elderly with dementia and may be scary, or create added stimulation from doorbell, knocks, or noise outside. Be sensitive to what they can tolerate and do your best to keep them safe and enjoy the evening with you.”, says Linette Hatfield, Crime Victim Advocate at ElderServe.
Remove hazards – Stairs and front porches are a great place to display flame-lit jack-o-lanterns and other spooky decorations. However, consider removing these items from walking paths as they pose trip hazards to not only you, but also your child-neighbors, whose vision may be impaired by a mask.
Communicate – It’s OK to ask for help. Ask your neighbors about how you can team up that night to keep an eye on each other’s houses. Consider teaming up with a few of your neighbors to hand out candy together. This can be a fun way to enjoy the holiday with someone else.
Remember to have fun! Once you’ve made sure to address any potential concerns, you can relax and enjoy the holiday. For more general Halloween safety tips, click here.