Last Updated on April 8, 2020
Post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, can happen to anyone of any age that has experienced a traumatic event. PTSD in the elderly is very common because of one shared bond that ties all elderly people together: their age. Simply because of how long they have lived, PTSD in older adults may have higher PTSD statistics because this population is more likely to have experienced a traumatic event than someone who, for example, is ten years old.
However, PTSD assessment and treatment in older adults can be problematic because those with the disorder are not always easily and readily identified. Perhaps the trauma is buried and is only triggered and brought to the surface by an activating event; perhaps the person does not want to speak about their trauma; perhaps the person has already been through a form of treatment that was unsuccessful, and they do not want to revisit it. There are many reasons why PTSD in older adults and the elderly may be hard to identify. Read on to learn more about PTSD symptoms, PTSD resources, and other things that are worthwhile to know.
PTSD in Older Adults: Can PTSD Resurface Years Later?
PTSD can certainly resurface years later. Perhaps the person has buried something that happened years before, and an activating event now triggers it. For example, maybe a former combat veteran is triggered by fireworks. An older person also may be reflecting back upon their life and may recall something they forgot. Many often ask, which age group does PTSD affect the most? For women, it’s between the ages of 51 and 55, and for men, the ages of 41 and 45. However, this doesn’t mean that PTSD in the elderly won’t occur much later. It certainly can resurface in someone’s 60s or 70s. PTSD in older adults can also be unintentionally triggered by:
- Death of a loved one
- Dementia (PTSD and dementia or PTSD and Alzheimer’s can certainly be comorbid conditions)
- Empty nest syndrome
- Health problems
- Financial problems
It’s a good idea, if you’re a caretaker of an older person, to know what symptoms may look like when it comes to PTSD in older adults, so you can know if a loved one is dealing with PTSD.
PTSD in Older Adults: Coping with PTSD
It’s wise to know the effects of PTSD and the symptoms so you can care for your loved one if they’re suffering. It is often asked, why is it difficult to identify survivors of trauma among older adults? Because it is well-hidden. Older adults may also suffer from dementia, or other health problems, and psychological trauma and the elderly may be masked. Be on the lookout for:
- Avoidance of activities that may be a reminder of trauma or emotional numbness that is connected to a traumatic event
- Being increasingly irritated, jumpy, or angered; trouble sleeping or concentrating
- Having frequent flashbacks and nightmares, replaying trauma
- Having a sense of emptiness
- Declining sensory abilities
- Declining cognitive abilities
Your loved one may or may not share with you fully about their trauma. But if you feel that it may be a case of PTSD in an older adult, you may want to talk to them about joining a support group or talking to their healthcare provider about how they feel.
PTSD in Older Adults: Other Medical Problems
You may be wondering, what types of health conditions occur in higher rates among older survivors of trauma? Falls are one thing to worry about. Sometimes older adults with PTSD may have a tendency to drift off, or their mind may wander. As a result, falls are a concern. Falls can be a PTSD exacerbation and can actually make the PTSD worse, making symptoms even stronger. Making sure that there are slip guards and other safety precautions in place is a must for someone who already has had traumatic experiences. People often ask, can PTSD cause dementia? The short answer is no. However, PTSD symptoms, if untreated, can contribute to poor cognitive health, which can increase dementia symptoms. Those who suffer from PTSD should seek counseling or treatment, or help via support groups if possible. Service dogs are also a good option for PTSD in older adults and the elderly.
To find out more about what help is available for PTSD in older adults, or to learn about mobility products and safety products that can help prevent falls and promote mobility, contact us at Williams Lift Co. today. We want both caregivers and their patients or loved ones to live their best lives.