Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD is a mental health condition triggered by either going through a traumatic event or by witnessing it. Most people who have gone through a traumatic event may temporarily experience stress and repeated thoughts about the event, but with time they may get better. But if the anxiety lasts for years and interferes in your daily life, then you may be suffering from PTSD. Symptoms of PTSD include uncontrollable thoughts about the event, anxiety, stress and nightmares.
The symptoms vary from person to person but the underlying feeling is the same; anxiety and despair. Care givers need to deal with elderly patients of PTSD with a lot of love and understanding.
Below are a few things you can do to take care of the elderly in your family suffering from PTSD:
- Be present: PTSD can make one withdraw from social gatherings, family and friends. Elderly patients especially need care and comfort and someone who is there for them. You need to help them come out of their cocoon, and slowly get back to their old self. Your presence can be a huge solace for them, ensuring that they don’t feel alone.
- Create a safe space: Create a dependable environment that’s structured for them. PTSD patients often find their surroundings dangerous and unpredictable. It is important to make them feel space and let them know their surroundings are harmless.
- Listen: Talking about the trauma is a big part of the healing process, but it should happen at the patient’s will. Be present and patient with them till they are ready to talk about it to you.
- Avoid triggers: Anything related to the trauma can be a trigger for a PTSD patient, like a place, date, smell, sound etc. As you become aware of the triggers of your loved one, help them avoid that so that they are not forced to relive the trauma.
- Stay calm: In spite of your best efforts, they may see something and get triggered and agitated. They may also have an outburst. The best thing you can do is stay calm through the process of helping them feel better. If both the patient and care giver panic, it will be hard to calm them down.
- Seek professional help: PTSD can be treated with therapy and its possible for your loved one to get better. Doctors treat the severe cases with both therapy and medication. You doctor will be the best person to decide the course of treatment for your loved one, but it’s important to convince them to seek professional help. Be with them throughout the healing process, right from diagnosis to therapy and till they feel better.
Caring for a patient with PTSD may seem hard, but it’s harder on them. Be patient, loving and kind to the elderly family member and make sure they feel comfortable in the space you have created for them. With your love, care and doctor’s guidance, they should get better with time.
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