Seniors may be at a higher risk for developing Posttraumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) following a traumatic event or having symptoms re-emerge later in life, compared to other groups of people in our society. Research has shown that approximately 70% of adults in the United States have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives. Many times, posttraumatic stress symptoms can emerge or reemerge later in life whether the individual was treated for a particular event or not.
There are several suggestions on why PTSD often emerges for individuals in their later years, these include:
- Role changes and functional losses may make coping with memories of earlier trauma more challenging for the older adult. Such stressors include retirement, increased health problems, decreased sensory abilities, reduced income, loss of loved ones, decreased social support, cognitive impairment, and other stressors and causes of functional decline.
- Avoidance-based coping is a method for managing posttraumatic stress symptoms in early and mid-life. This can include drinking alcohol or over-committing oneself to work. As adults age, these methods are less available or effective.
Symptoms of PTSD can include nightmares or unwanted memories of the trauma, avoidance of situations that bring back memories of the trauma, heightened reactions, Anxiety, or depressed mood. In order to be diagnosed with PTSD, symptoms must be prevalent for at least one month. As a treatable condition, it is vital that symptoms are evaluated as early as possible.
IDCC has successfully treated a tremendous number of seniors who have been diagnosed with PTSD. Many of our mental health professionals have received advanced training in PTSD, which is vital when treating an older adult. Being that many seniors have had numerous experiences which can trigger PTSD symptoms it is necessary that therapy is facilitated in a careful and systematic manner. Clinicians will create a step-by-step process which allows individuals to recover at their own pace. Visits typically start off on a more frequent basis, and the taper off until the senior can manage on her own.
The traditional supported method of treatment for PTSD in older adults involves interventions like prolonged exposure and cognitive processing therapy. These techniques and procedures directly target the distressing memory and begin the process of eliminating some of the trauma symptoms. One of IDCC’s trained doctors or therapists will look at those nightmares and flashbacks and work on targeting some of the emotions and thoughts around those specific events and memories in order to help the patient overcome the feelings and begin adjusting to a regular, healthy and trauma free lifestyle.