Helping Older Adults with PTSD

Senior Care in Skokie IL: Helping Older Adults with PTSD

PTSD stands for post traumatic stress disorder. It is a condition that can occur when a person has experienced a traumatic event. Many people who have been in the military and gone to war are affected by PTSD. However, it is not limited to military veterans. People who have had other kinds of traumatic experiences, like car accidents or a natural disaster can also experience PTSD. A person with PTSD may re-experience the event through flashbacks, avoid things that remind them of the event, feel anxious or nervous, or have negative thoughts and feelings. Caring for someone with PTSD can be stressful, but knowing how to respond to and manage symptoms can make it easier.

PTSD Symptoms

Sometimes PTSD symptoms start right after a traumatic event. However, PTSD symptoms can appear years after the event. Some signs that your aging relative may be suffering from PTSD are:

  • Reliving: The person may have flashbacks or nightmares in which they relive the event.
  • Avoidance: People with PTSD might try to avoid places or people that remind them of the event.
  • Negativity: PTSD sufferers often have more negative feelings about themselves or others. They may also feel guilty or like they are in danger.
  • Hyperarousal: The person might seem “keyed up” all the time. They may be jittery, irritable, or always on the lookout for danger.

Tips for Dealing with PTSD

If you’re assisting a senior with PTSD, there are several ways you can help them to manage the symptoms. Some things you can do are:

  • Don’t Force Them to Talk: A person with PTSD may not want to talk about the traumatic event. In fact, doing so might even make their PTSD worse. Instead, let the senior know that you are someone they can talk to if they want, but that you love and accept them the way they are.
  • Learn Deep Breathing: Learn how to use deep breathing to control feelings of anxiety. Then, teach the older adult how to do it. When you can tell they are anxious, remind them to breathe.
  • Use Grounding Techniques: Sometimes when a person is reliving the event, using techniques that put them back in touch with the present can help. Try having them touch and describe familiar objects, say the alphabet backwards, or name all of the kinds of something they can think of (animals, plants, cities, etc.).
  • Maintain Normality: Don’t focus on PTSD too much. Instead, do the things you would normally do. Go for walks, take them out for lunch, and engage them in hobbies and other activities.

Having a senior care provider who comes to the home can be another way to help your aging relative manage PTSD. A senior care provider can be a great distraction from negative thoughts and feelings. They can engage the senior in positive activities, like working on a hobby or going on an outing. A senior care provider might also make them feel safer because they are not alone.


If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Skokie, IL, please call the caring staff at A-Abiding Care today. Serving North and Northwest Chicago and the surrounding area for over 30 years. Call 847-698-1400.

Michael Kernan. Administrator
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