Understanding PTSD in Seniors

PTSD develops in approximately 1 in 3 people who go through serious trauma. This can include anything from the death of a loved one, military combat, car accidents, illness or injury, natural disasters, a disease diagnosis or other events that may have significant physical or psychological impact.

Many people experience negative feelings after experiencing a traumatic event. However, when these negative feelings last for a long period of time, cause someone to relive the trauma or have daily impacts, that person could be suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For seniors, it’s not uncommon for symptoms of PTSD to be a result of traumatic events that happened earlier in their lives or to occur after a major fall, a heart attack or other serious health events.

For seniors with PTSD, symptoms can include flashbacks, depression or anger, fear, self-isolation, outbursts or trouble sleeping. These symptoms can be difficult to identify or mistaken for other age-related conditions.

There are treatment options for seniors experiencing PTSD. It is recommended that anyone experiencing PTSD symptoms consult their physician to establish a plan of treatment to successfully manage symptoms.

  • Lifestyle changes– for some, keeping active and engaged can help manage PTSD symptoms. This can include anything from starting a physician-approved exercise regimen, volunteering, getting involved in community activities, or finding ways to increase mental stimulation.
  • Medicine– there are medications that can help seniors with PTSD. For seniors that are prescribed medication, it’s important to schedule regular check-ins with a physician and to be open about the positive and negative effects of medications.
  • Therapy– individual or group therapy can be a great resource for seniors with PTSD. There are multiple types of therapy, with different goals and methods for each. Cognitive Processing Therapy, Prolonged Exposure therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, and Stress Inoculation are types of therapy specifically created to help with PTSD symptoms. Seniors that are interested in starting therapy should talk to their doctor about the type of program that might work for them.
  • Sharing experiences– talking about the traumatic event that caused the PTSD can also bring relief and foster connections that may be beneficial for a senior’s physical and mental health. This can be a conversation with a friend or joining a support group – it’s important for people to share in an environment where they feel supported and understood. It can be difficult for someone with PTSD to talk about their experiences, but for many this may be a necessary step for managing symptoms.

Comfort Keepers Can Help

Our goal is to provide uplifting in-home care that benefits seniors and their families. The individualized care plans we create for our clients consider physical goals as well as emotional and psychological needs. Our caregivers can provide transportation to community events and appointments, support physician-prescribed exercise regimens, provide companionship and help families stay connected to the Comfort Keepers care team and informed of their loved ones care through use of technology. We strive to elevate the human spirit through quality, compassionate, joyful care.

To learn more about our in-home care services, contact your local Comfort Keepers location today.

References

Mayo Clinic. “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).” Web. 2018.

Psychiatric Times. “PTSD in Late Life: Special Issues.” Web. 2018.

American Psychiatric Association. “What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.” Web. 2013

Everyday Health. “When a Health Crisis Leads to PTSD.” Web. 2012.

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