When placing a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility, we hope that they are to be cared for in the best possible way. Our desire is that our eldest family members will be treated like family. Still, the reality is that nursing homes are for-profit businesses and sometimes do take into account the best interests of the residents.
That is why it can be a painful decision to place a loved one in a long term care facility. However, when we can no provide all the care an elder family member needs, seeking professional help can be the only option.
Nursing home populations continue to grow. As the number of beds expands, so to do the cases of abuse and neglect. Abuse and neglect towards senior citizens can cause grave physical injuries. Nursing home injuries include loss of limbs, broken bones, abrasions, and others.
However, abuse can lead to psychological injuries. One of the most damaging emotional injuries suffered by nursing home residents is post-traumatic stress disorder.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms in Nursing Home Residents
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that may develop after a person has seen or lived through a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. PTSD sufferers continue to feel symptoms of fright, dread, depression, or anxiety after the triggering event.
Just because an elderly resident suffers from depression or anxiety on a regular basis does not mean that PTSD may be present. While we all experience these emotions from time to time, they are can be prevalent in the elderly population. Often, our senior citizens suffer from chronic conditions, have experienced recent losses, and are prescribed symptom-inducing medications.
Symptoms of PTSD in nursing home residents include:
- Traumatic thoughts or dreams occurring on a consistent basis.
- Emotional or physical distress at certain triggers.
- Uncharacteristic agitation and anger.
- Being easily startled or uncharacteristically tense or on edge.
- Staying away from certain places or people.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Caused by Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse
Triggers of PTSD are not limited to battlefield occurrences. In fact, some of the most common causes of PTSD are assault, sexual abuse, and physical abuse. Sadly, PTSD diagnosis are common in nursing home residents.
Nursing home staff attempting to cut corners may have a tendency to lash out at uncooperative residents, or those residents with limited capacity. Sometimes, often due to improper background checks by management, employees with their own mental issues commit sexual abuse. Due to the confined nature of most nursing homes, residents who are not abused, but witness the abuse, are also harmed.
Such events cause PTSD and PTSD symptoms in nursing home residents.
How is Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome Treated in Nursing Home Residents
PTSD can be treated. Treatment, support, and time are important components in recovery. PTSD can be treated by the following:
- Psychotherapy: Changing thought patterns, recognizing and avoiding triggers, and associating alternate emotions with memories.
- Medication: Serotonin or SSRIs are often used to treat PTSD through the reduction of anxiety and depression symptoms.
- Group Support: Talking through issues may help resolve pain associated with PTSD. This may not be possible with all nursing home residents.
- Self Care and Family Support: Demonstration of family love and support can help boost the confidence of the elderly PTSD sufferer.