Three houses sit in a row on a street at night. The middle house is dark but each house on other side is lit up with Halloween decorations.

When Trick or Treat Stopped Being a Treat!

My mom loved the fall! The season gradually changing to bring golden autumn days and cool, clear nights. The beautiful display of the colorful leaves and the squirrels running to and fro collecting their nuts. We would all hop in the car to head to the farm to pick out pumpkins, eat apple cider donuts and go on a hayride. Mom loved to watch my kids raking up the leaves into a big pile, then leaping into them and scattering them all over again! The kids and I would help her decorate the house with pumpkins and mums. Mom would help the kids take old clothes, straw and rope to make into a scarecrow to display for the neighbors to see. We loved to pick apples and make apple pie with all of the delicious apples that we picked. The smell was incredible!

Every October, Mom and I would take the kids down to Old Wethersfield to see all the scarecrows on display all along Main Street; this was one of her favorite things. Mom loved helping the kids decide what costume they would create to magically become someone else for that one night of Halloween. And she especially loved Halloween night! She couldn’t wait for nightfall to bring all the neighborhood children to the house in their adorable costumes, ringing the doorbell to collect their candy!

Happiness was replaced by confusion

Sadly these happy days wouldn’t last as my mom declined and changed more and more because of Alzheimer’s. We would try to decorate and display pumpkins in the house for her, but she would become very upset. She didn’t want anything in the house moved. She would become confused if her surroundings were changed. She would place three kitchen towels on the door handle of her stove and become irritated if we touched or moved one. Even cooking in her kitchen became a challenge; she couldn’t handle the disorder of the noise and smells.

Thankfully we could still put Mom in her transport wheelchair and get her into the car for a ride to see the scarecrows along Main Street. She wasn’t as animated and excited about them as she once was, but she did look out the window at them as we slowly drove by. The kids pointed out their favorites; Mom slowly smiled at them.

As Mom declined, so did our Halloween memories

Halloween night became a very upsetting experience for Mom. She could not understand why the doorbell kept ringing! She didn’t know why there were kids at her door or even who the kids were that were at her door. And why were they in costume? The constant noise and chaos of the night made mom extremely agitated.

We had to do something we never thought we would do. We had to turn off the outside lights of the house so no more kids would stop by and ring the doorbell to Trick or Treat. Sadly this had become our new normal for our once favorite season of the year. No more pumpkins or hayrides with Mom. No jumping into leaf piles as Grandma watched. We couldn’t bake our pies in my mom's kitchen. No more dressing up for Halloween where mom could see, it could frighten her. And the worst part, no ringing the doorbell to Trick or Treat at Mom's house.

Life moves along and brings changes for an Alzheimer’s patient and their loved ones. Just like the seasons, there's no stopping it. Thankfully we have our memories of happy times to sustain us on our journey.

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