Senior Strategies: Halloween safety tips for seniors
Posted on: 2015 10 26
Halloween night can be a scary time for seniors - and not just because of children dressed as vampires, wolf men and wicked witches. Kids accompanied by their parents don't pose a threat, but constant knocking and large masked visitors can be intimidating regardless of intention. This is the night when older adults - like all homeowners - speak to more unfamiliar faces over the course of a few hours than at any other time of the year. Anyone opening the front door and handing out treats has a responsibility to keep themselves and their guests safe. "Each situation requires its own set of precautions be taken," said Regina Mergel, activities and resident service coordinator at The Wesley Community, a Saratoga Springs nonprofit that provides senior housing and services. "The important thing is to identify concerns and address them so you can relax and enjoy the holiday. Mergel offers a few tips for making this Halloween a safe one: Don't go dark - Leave interior and exterior lights on even if you're away from home or not handing out treats. While a dark home will dissuade trick-or-treaters from knocking, it also tells vandals your house could be empty. And if you are handing out treats, make sure your exterior is well lit. Troublemakers are less likely to get unruly when they can be seen. Keep guests outside - Hand out treats on your front porch or steps instead of inviting trick-or-treaters inside. Protecting your domain means drawing a line somewhere, and your front door is a good place to do just that. If someone asks to use the bathroom or phone, your house may not be the best place unless you have multiple adults inside. Team effort - If you're worried about handling Halloween alone, ask a younger relative or neighbor to drop by for a few hours. The presence of multiple people will deter would-be tricksters from targeting you or your home. Remove hazards - Stairs are a good place to display candlelit pumpkins in the days leading up to Halloween, but may not be the best place for anything involving flames when dozens of children with tails and capes are lumbering by. While you're at it, remove all decorations from footpaths since costumes will leave many children with impaired vision and mobility. Communicate - Talk to your neighbors about how you can look out for each other on a night with so much foot traffic. Do you want your house watched while you head out on Halloween? Will your neighbor team up and hand out treats together? Discuss concerns in advance and find a formula that works. And don't hesitate to report suspicious activity - better safe than sorry. The final and most important rule is to have fun. "Halloween is no different than any of the celebrations or activities we have here at The Wesley Community," Mergel said. "Once you've addressed concerns, you've paved the way for enjoying the smiles, laughs and sense of community that Halloween can offer. Senior Strategies is a monthly feature in The Saratogian. For more information, call The Wesley Community at 587-3600 or visit www.wesleyhealth.com.