June is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month, and we’d like to take this time to share some important information on PTSD and how we, as non-medical in-home caregivers, can help those managing it. We work with a wide range of people, many of whom manage PTSD symptoms. Often, we’re working with veterans who have served or individuals who have experienced major trauma which caused physical disabilities. Ensuring a safe and stable home, a reliable routine, and support during triggering moments are essential in curbing the effects of PTSD on a daily basis. Please join us and we go over what PTSD is, what the signs and symptoms are, and ways that we can all support the people we love with PTSD.

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

There are many resources available to help explain, diagnose, and manage PTSD. For today’s article, we will rely on the expert knowledge of the team at the prestigious Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic explains PTSD as the following:

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Most people who go through traumatic events may have temporary difficulty adjusting and coping, but with time and good self-care, they usually get better. If the symptoms get worse, last for months or even years, and interfere with your day-to-day functioning, you may have PTSD.

Getting effective treatment after PTSD symptoms develop can be critical to reduce symptoms and improve function.

Who Might Be Suffering From PTSD?

We generally associate PTSD with the men and women who serve in our armed forces, often facing unsurmountable circumstances that can end in injury, disability, or even death. These traumatic events can take hold and cause continuing PTSD symptoms. PTSD, however, does affect a larger percentage of the population. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anyone can develop PTSD at any age. Individuals at risk have likely experienced or witnessed:

  • Armed combat
  • Physical assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Abuse during childhood or adulthood
  • A major accident (vehicular, physical, etc.)
  • A natural disaster
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The Symptoms and Effects of PTSD

There are four main categories of symptoms common with PTSD. These include:

Re-experiencing Symptoms: thoughts and feelings can trigger these symptoms, as can words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event.

  • Experiencing flashbacks—reliving the traumatic event, including physical symptoms such as a racing heart or sweating
  • Having recurring memories or dreams related to the event
  • Having distressing thoughts
  • Experiencing physical signs of stress (NIMH)

Avoidance Symptoms: may cause people to change their routines. For example, some people may avoid driving or riding in a car after a serious car accident.

  • Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the traumatic experience
  • Avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event (NIMH)

Arousal and Reactivity Symptoms: are often constant. They can lead to feelings of stress and anger and may interfere with parts of daily life, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.

  • Being easily startled
  • Feeling tense, on guard, or on edge
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Feeling irritable and having angry or aggressive outbursts
  • Engaging in risky, reckless, or destructive behavior (NIMH)

Cognition and Mood Symptoms: can begin or worsen after the traumatic event. They can lead a person to feel detached from friends or family members.

  • Having trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event
  • Having negative thoughts about oneself or the world
  • Having exaggerated feelings of blame directed toward oneself or others
  • Having ongoing negative emotions, such as fear, anger, guilt, or shame
  • Losing interest in enjoyable activities
  • Having feelings of social isolation
  • Having difficulty feeling positive emotions, such as happiness or satisfaction (NIMH)

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Take the PTSD Self-Screen Assessment

If you or someone you know may be suffering from undiagnosed PTSD, you can do a confidential self-assessment at the National Center for PTSD website. Remember, there is no shame in having or managing PTSD. You deserve answers and support.

Take the Self-Assessment ›

How Non-Medical In-Home Care Can Help

As you can see, there are a number of triggers that can cause a wide range of symptoms that can often be debilitating for those managing PTSD. One of the most important things we can do for our loved ones suffering from PTSD is to create a safe, secure, and stable environment that limits these triggers. The benefit of non-medical in-home care is that our caregivers can come into the home, where an individual with PTSD feels safest, and make the space even more conducive to healing. Our caregivers can:

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Ensure a safe, comfortable home by evaluating the space and making recommendations to eliminate potential triggers like fall hazards. Through regular light housework, meal prep, laundry service, and changing linens, our caregivers can create a more comfortable environment to reduce risk of injury or triggers.

ameriCARE supports clients with PTSD

Help with memory care by helping our clients create task lists, set reminders, and create routines within the home to make daily living easier. Our caregivers also act as a companion and confidant, available to listen and support our clients as they recall painful memories or experience a panic attack.

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Establish a daily routine by helping our clients schedule their time around their needs. By creating a reoccurring schedule for things like waking up, bathing and grooming, managing daily chores, attending out-of-home appointments, meal preparation, and running errands, we can help our clients get into a reliable and comfortable routine that eliminates triggers and builds confidence.

Remember, You Don’t Have to Do This Alone

Whether you are managing PTSD or are supporting a loved one who has PTSD, you don’t have to do it alone. Our trained, skilled, and kind local caregivers are available to provide temporary or reoccurring support whenever you need it. We’re just a call away and we’re ready to help you live a more fulfilled life.

Find Your Local ameriCARE ›