Holidays are observed and celebrated by everyone. However, they hold a uniquely special significance in the world of senior care where the lives of residents and care staff often revolve around a community’s Activity Calendar. There are even Activity Coordinators responsible for ensuring that there are celebrations galore for each holiday that passes. Crafts, concerts, outings, dinners, and games are often themed around whatever season or holiday is taking place. It is crazy to think that St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, May Day, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, and Independence Day have all come and gone since the COVID-19 pandemic changed our way of doing things in the world of senior care.
While some places have recently seen restrictions being to ease, others are still in total lockdown. Regardless, abiding by government guidelines and ensuring the health and safety of staff and residents is a top priority for care providers.
As October approaches, it brings us to Halloween. Therefore, now is the time to begin dreaming and scheming ways to celebrate with residents, keeping them active and engaged within government guidelines. This year has been spooky enough, so here are X ways to bring some laughter and light into your care community as you observe Halloween.
Door Decorating Competition
Have residents go all out decorating the door to their room. Provide supplies like construction paper, tape, ribbons, balloons, wreaths, stuffing (for spider webs) etc. The change in scenery will be appreciated and can lift the spirits! If able, you could even turn it into a competition and have residents and staff vote on the spookiest or most festive door.
Halloween Movie Marathon
Some nursing homes have film clubs where residents watch a movie together from their rooms over Zoom or socially distanced in the community’s cinema. There might be snacks and discussions or reminiscence incorporated, too. Scary/Horror movies aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but there are some classics your residents are sure to remember like Young Frankenstein, The Birds, Night of the Living Dead and The Shining. Additionally, you can select non-scary films like Ghostbusters, The Addams Family, Casper, E.T., and Edward Scissorhands. Whether you plan one movie night or you have several screenings throughout the month, it’s a low-planning activity you can easily implement!
Between Google Earth and YouTube, you can pretty much virtually transport residents to just about anywhere in the world. There are many places with histories perfect for visiting if you’re in search of Halloween entertainment. Some of the destinations on your itinerary could include:
Loch Ness, Scotland – This is where the story of the Lochness Monster originated.
Bran Castle, Romania and New Slain’s Castle, Scotland – These two stunningly eerie castles are both believed to have inspired Bram Stoker’s terrifying fictional character, Dracula.
Dragsholm Slot, Denmark – Originally built in 1215, it is one of the oldest castles in Denmark and supposedly the most haunted in all of Europe. From the 16th-17th century it was used to house prisoners of nobility. Today it is an upscale hotel that hosts a Michelin star restaurant, while reportedly being home to over 100 ghosts including the husband of Mary Queen of Scotts who died as a prisoner there.
New Orleans, Louisiana – This city has deep historical ties to voodoo and several sites associated with it like the Historic Voodoo Museum, the cemetery where Marie Laveau is buried, and the Pharmacy Museum, with interesting apothecary bottles, potions and herbs.
Salem, Massachusetts – The town where the Salem Witch Trials took place and home to the Witch History Museum, the Witch Dungeon Museum, The Witch House of Salem.
Make A Mask
2020 has been the year of the mask, after all. For this activity, any plain surgical-style mask will do. Gather together some fabric paint and markers and any other desired embellishments. Consider drawing the following onto face masks and turning them into part of a Halloween costume:
- Jack o’lantern mouth and nose
- Vampire teeth
- Cat mouth and whiskers
- Silly face
- Sugar skull
Fill baskets with fun Halloween tricks and treats that residents can enjoy in their rooms. Consider opening it up to family members in case they want to contribute by posting or dropping off something personalized. Inside the baskets you could have:
- Halloween themed word searches, crossword puzzles, ‘I Spy’ activity sheets and coloring pages
- Halloween candy or treat
- Joke cards
- DIY Pumpkin Stressball
- A ready-to-go craft kit for making something like a Paper Cup Ghost or Playdough Monster
- Pumpkin-scented hand lotion or candle
- Halloween socks