June is dedicated to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness. At SYNERGY HomeCare, we serve many veterans and others who have PTSD. We know many family caregivers like you who wonder what they can do to help their loved ones who have this condition.
While PTSD is often associated with military personnel, anyone can develop it. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, PTSD affects about 7.7 American adults. PTSD can be a result of a traumatic experience, such as a car accident, a natural disaster, abuse, or any other life-threatening event. If you have a loved one who has lived through a traumatic experience, and you are concerned look for the following symptoms.
- Reliving the experiences through flashbacks, nightmares, or being triggered by a sight or smell that takes you back to the incident. Like seeing a car accident happen and reliving your own accident.
- Avoidance of situations that recall the traumatic event. For instance, not watching fireworks on the 4th of July because the sound reminds the person of being shelled at a military base.
- Emotional numbness. In order to avoid memories of the event, all emotional triggers are avoided. People, hobbies, activities that were once loved are neglected and uninteresting.
- Hyper-arousal or feeling antsy, jittery, or unable to relax. This can cause issues with falling or staying asleep, concentration, and easily startled by a loud noise or surprise.
For Families, Friends, and Caregivers
Here are a few ways that you can help your loved one with PTSD.
- Offer to listen to what they have/need to say and that you understand if they don’t wish to talk.
- Plan family outings to the park, hiking, bike riding, or any kind of physical activity. Exercise helps to clear your mind and is important for your health.
- Encourage socialization friends and family. When dealing with difficult changes and stressful situations, a strong support system makes it easier to go through.
- Offer to go to the doctors with them. It not only helps to inform you but allows you to give them the support that they might need.
- Find support groups for yourself and your family to help you understand and deal with the situation.
- For extreme or serious situations please seek out a medical professional for help. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a common human reaction but can escalate quickly. Please visit the VA’s list of resources to help you and your loved one.