Halloween is a dream come true for kids.
They get to dress up, act silly and take home tons of candy. And parents get to enjoy the holiday vicariously through their kids. But what does Halloween have to offer older adults, many of whose kids and even grandkids have grown well past trick-or-treating age?
Memories, that's what.
Most older adults will tell you they love Halloween. And it's not because they like to dress up or because they have a sweet tooth, and it's because Halloween brings them back in time and allows them to relive some of their favorite memories—handing out candy to trick-or-treaters and trick-or-treating with their children.
Of course, older adults living in senior living communities can easily miss out on holiday and the memories when trick-or-treaters stop knocking on their door every October. That's why The Birches Assisted Living invites the Halloween cheer to come to them by hosting an annual Halloween Party and Variety Show.
Every year, The Birches invites families from the Clarendon Hills community to stop by for trick-or-treating and Halloween-themed entertainment the week before Halloween. And for many Birches residents, it's the highlight of their year.
"I waited three weeks for the trick-or-treaters to come," said Birches resident Gail Olson. "They came in a big group, and it was so fun."
Olson has four grandkids, and they're all grown up now. But that doesn't mean she doesn't enjoy "oohing" and "aahing" at the little fairies, ninjas, and superheroes that come out in droves on Halloween.
She's always eagerly awaited trick-or-treaters because she enjoys seeing kids dressed up and seeing them happy. When she moved to The Birches this past July, she didn't realize she'd get to continue her favorite Halloween tradition, but she's glad that she does. And many Birches residents feel the same.
"The trick-or-treaters looked so cute," said Birches resident Pat McCann. "One was wearing a bridesmaid dress, and one was dressed in scrubs holding a baby in her hands. And then there was Wonder Woman, and she was darling."
Many older adults, like McCann, love seeing kids dressed up because they're downright adorable. But for most, it goes far beyond cuteness. They love it because it reminds them of when they were young parents—one of the happiest times in their lives.
"It was sure memory lane for me," said Birches resident Anne Hickey. "It brought me back to when I used to take my kids out."
Of course, older adults (residents of The Birches included) don't just enjoy handing out treats. They even enjoy partaking in the "trick" part of the holiday by giving impish kids a taste of their own medicine.
"I had tootsie rolls, and one kid asked me if he could take two, and I told him just one. And then I said to him, 'Tricks or treat!' and I let him take two," Hickey said with a chuckle.
So you could say that Halloween brings back ghosts from the past. But not the spooky kind. It brings back memories of yourself and your loved ones from Halloween's past, so you can enjoy those memories of fun, family, and maybe a little bit of fear—the memories that make Halloween so great for people of all ages.
If there's an older adult in your life who loves Halloween, invite them over for your family's Halloween festivities or bring some Halloween fun to them. They'll certainly appreciate the opportunity to walk down that pumpkin-lined lane of memories one more time.