Halloween Safety for the Geriatric Crowd


It's Halloween, and the night cares not if middle age has us squinting and blinking to make out the date on our calendar. Grab your drugstore cheaters and you'll see trick or treat night circled as clearly as before you had cataracts. Though my body has aged, my spirit has not, and I still look forward to All Hallows' Eve with anticipation. With my diminished night vision, agility, and new stomach distress in response to chocolate, I have found that with a few precautions, I can still join the fun along with the young ghouls and goblins of the night.

Special safety measures that I once took to ensure my children's safety now apply to me: I may not like being a pedestrian in the dark now (pesky uneven sidewalks) and I may get colder than usual (darn that aging thyroid) but I will still get out there and walk the long orange mile of jack-o-lanterns and scarecrows propped up on neighbor's Adirondack chairs.

When it's a middle aged you taking the kids out on trick or treat night, it won't just be the ghosts and floor boards they'll hear creaking in the dark, it will be your knees. Well, I've got you covered, friend, from greying head to bunion toe. With a few adjustments designed to keep yourself safe, you'll be able to groan and moan along with the best of them (moaning will be for our fallen arches and groaning for our aching backs, but who needs to know, it'll just sound that much more authentic).

Here are my tips on How To Be Safe on All Hallows' Eve [Geriatric Crowd Edition]:

1. With your advancing short term memory loss, it's a good idea to plan a route and draw out a map with familiar landmarks. No one is saying you'll get lost, but 'tis better to have it and not need it, then to be found frozen behind your neighbor's house in the morning. (oh, but she was sooo close to home!)

2. Aging eyesight makes contrast between light and dark a necessity for clear vision. Walking in the dark against a dark sidewalk isn't going to help you. Bring along the glasses you'll need for your night blindness-or not, if you're okay with feeling your way around like a naked mole rat.

3. Choose face paint over face mask any time you can. Masks will muffle your voice, causing you to feel disoriented when you hear it; throw in the night blindness and hyperventilating panic that will make you think It's the big one, Elizabeth! and you've got the makings of full blown chaos and confusion. Don't do this to your kids. Say YES to paint needs to be your new motto.

4. Bright colored clothing, for real. Go as Gramma Neon. Be Seen, Be Safe. [patent pending].

5. Wigs, capes, costumes: the triple threat! Wigs will overheat you when you're already hot-flashing, capes will make you feel claustrophobic because of the string tied around your neck wattle, (a new thing that takes getting used to) and costumes?? Simple costumes are best, just wear what you wear when you shovel snow or rake leaves. Go as "Mrs. She-Just-Gave-Up-One-Day."

6. Stop muttering and talking out loud to yourself when you cross the street. Wits about you, people! especially in the face of traffic. Small, darting children-yes, motorists are prepared to be on the lookout for them on Halloween Night, BUT doddering off-kilter adults? You'll catch motorists off guard, which will not work out to be a good thing for you.

7. Please don't go inside anyone's house. Astute homeowners will grab you, lock the door behind you, then run out the back shouting, "Kids! Surprise! Your new gramma and grampa are here to babysit you tonight!"

8. Older men, watch your choice of costumes. With your hairy ears and eyebrows, the werewolves of the night will find you and drag you back to their den to be their new alpha male. Ladies: now is not the time to stop the Botox you just discovered. You'll look ripe for the picking when the spirits come looking for lost souls of the dead.

9. Once home, have someone with good vision inspect your candy for hard and too sticky to chew pieces. Last thing you want on a night like this is to bite down and crack a tooth, or pull a crown, or snap your bridge in half, all from cheap peanut butter twists or stale popcorn balls. Dentists charge extra for night hours.

10. Finally, TAKE CARE. Remember that this is the only night of the year that the door to the underworld is open. The departed are allowed above to harvest souls. Be careful, with our one foot in this world and one foot almost into the next, we are the tenderoni the underworld seeks. *I know we're starved for having someone look at us hungrily the way they once used to, but this kind of lip licking and eager hand rubbing in our direction, is not what we think we want.

Are we ready, troops? All right then, everyone grab their neon vest and flashing pumpkin necklace, we've got our job cut out for us staying on this side of the underworld for a few more eves.