Senior Living Care Blog

PTSD In Seniors

Posted by Joe Gilmore on Aug 20, 2019 11:00:00 AM


Seniors suffer from a number of age-related issues, however, there are also problems that can crop up that have nothing to do with age. Post-traumatic stress disorder, is one problem that many people deal with.


PTSD is a serious disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. The problem can be especially disruptive for senior citizens as the symptoms and side effects associated with the disorder can cause disastrous results.


Luckily, there are treatment options available to those who are dealing with post traumatic stress disorder. Medication and therapy are two ways that you can help someone overcome the problem and/or the associated symptoms.


What Is PTSD?

An older woman looking in the distance. PTSD in seniors is becoming more common

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a condition in which a person has a problem or difficult time recovering from witnessing or experiencing a terrifying, scary, or dangerous event.


Some of this is natural. It is normal for people to feel afraid during or after a traumatic situation or experience. However, those who continue to experience problems long after the situation has passed may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have the disorder may feel stressed or frightened, even when they are not in danger.


PTSD is something that can happen at any age. It affects war veterans, children and adults who have experienced assault, abuse, accidents, and more. In fact, according to the National Center for PTSD, about 7 to 8 percent of people will experience PTSD at some point in their lives.


It should be noted that not everyone who has PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some people who develop the problem get it after a friend or family member experiences an issue.


Identifying PTSD In Seniors

An elderly woman with PTSD. PTSD in seniors is becoming more common

According to the National Institute on Mental Health, to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder an adult must have all of the following for at least one month:

  • One re-experiencing symptom
  • One avoidance symptom
  • Two arousal and reactivity symptoms
  • Two cognition and mood symptoms


Re-experiencing symptoms can include things like flashbacks, bad dreams, and more. These can cause problems and interruptions in someone’s everyday life. The symptoms can begin from a person’s own thoughts or from external stimuli that can trigger an event.


When it comes to avoidance, a person may actively avoid and stay away from places, events, or objects that could be a reminder of the traumatic event that was experienced. These problems can cause a person to change their personal routine such as avoiding driving or even riding in a car.


Arousal symptoms can include things like being easily startled, being tense, having trouble sleeping and more. These symptoms are usually constant things rather than something that is triggering. These symptoms can also cause behavioral and emotional effects such as feeling stressed or angry. They may also impede things like sleeping, eating, or concentrating.


Cognition symptoms can deal with things like problems remembering key features of a traumatic event, negative thoughts about oneself, feelings of guilt, and more. These problems can cause feelings of alienation and detachment and can affect one’s ability to function properly.


Risk Factors

There are several things that can increase a person’s risk of developing PTSD, some of these things include:

  • Getting hurt
  • Seeing another person hurt
  • Having a history of mental illness or substance abuse
  • Dealing
  • Childhood trauma
  • Having little or no social support


All of these things can lead to increased risk of dealing with PTSD.


Treatment For PTSD

An older man sitting on a bench. PTSD in seniors is becoming more common

The main treatment options for people who deal with PTSD mainly deals with medication and psychotherapy.


Everyone will experience PTSD in a different way, which means that their treatment needs will also be different.


The most used and most widely studied medications used for treating PTSD are antidepressants. This type of medication can help control PTSD symptoms that many suffer from including sadness, worry, anger, and more. However, those with PTSD may be prescribed other forms of medication to help with certain specific symptoms such as sleep problems and disturbances.


Therapy is another viable option to help patients overcome issues related to PTSD. Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is characterized by speaking with health professional that specializes in mental illness. These sessions can be one-on-one or in a group. These therapy sessions usually last between six to 12 weeks. One of the most helpful forms of therapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy. It is used to help identify triggers that can cause PTSD episodes and rewire the brain so that it now how to handle them when exposed to these triggers.


As you can see, there are treatment options for those with PTSD, however, none of these are silver bullets guaranteed to work. Moreover, PTSD can be a tough and debilitating disorder to deal with. Many affected by the problem have trouble living independently, and it may even be hazardous to their health to do so.


Next Steps

If your loved one is dealing with issues related to PTSD, it may be best to seek the help of a caretaker of an assisted living facility. Having someone there for them when they experience a PTSD episode can help calm them down. Similarly, the symptoms associated with the disorder can be problematic, however, those dealing with these issues can use medication and treatment to overcome these problems. For those with PTSD, it can make independent living, and medication management, difficult. However, if you enlist the help of a caregiver or an assisted living facility, it can make day-to-day life easier and more safe.


One assisted living facility that can help you or your loved one as they continue on to the next chapter of their life is Landmark Senior Living. Landmark is dedicated to providing our residents with the care and support that they need to make their time with us as enjoyable as possible. Our staff has the knowledge and tools to help residents with whatever problems they may deal with. We also provide our residents with a filled up social calendar to keep them happy and socially stimulated. If you are interested in learning more about how Landmark can help, please visit our website and schedule a free tour of one of our assisted living facilities in New Mexico today.


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Topics: Senior Mental Health

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