There are many reasons people need in-home care services, such as recovering from injury, coping with an illness, or aging into their later senior years. In many instances, these reasons emerge from traumatic circumstances and can result in post traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD. There are many people receiving in-home care services who suffer from PTSD for other reasons as well, such as senior veterans who continue to struggle with memories of being at war.
PTSD affects approximately 10% of the population in the United States at any given time, including many seniors. LGBT seniors and senior veterans are at particular risk. The symptoms can be consistent or they can come and go depending on a person’s environment, personal recovery, and number of triggers. Having “triggers” is one of the main components of the disorder and occurs when something sets off memories of the person’s trauma, which in turn results in post traumatic symptoms. PTSD is characterized by flashbacks, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, nightmares, insomnia, depression, suicidal thoughts, mood swings, panic attacks, and other debilitating effects. When a post traumatic episode occurs, the person can feel as though they are reliving the traumatic experience.
For someone who is already struggling with old age, injury, or illness, coping with PTSD can add an extra layer of difficulty. People who were able to effectively manage their PTSD symptoms before old age, injury, or illness may suddenly find themselves back in old patterns and experiencing symptoms on a more regular basis.
In-Home Care Services and PTSD
One of the best things for someone who has PTSD is to remain in a stable, safe and secure environment. In-home care services enable people to receive the care they need from the comfort of their own home, which is why these services benefit people who have PTSD. There are several ways in-home caregivers help clients reduce and manage the symptoms of PTSD, including the ones outlined below.
Providing a Safe Space
In-home caregivers work to create a safe and comfortable home for their clients. Adapting to injury, illness, and old age often requires making changes to the home, such as installing safety bars in bathrooms and laying out non-slip rugs. A professional in-home caregiver knows how to mitigate safety risks and can simultaneously work with clients to create an environment that remains familiar and comfortable even with the changes. This reduces risks of injury and triggers for people who have PTSD.
PTSD can often be one of those “invisible” illnesses since much of it happens within the mind. Someone who is unfamiliar with PTSD may not understand why a person is behaving a certain way during a post traumatic episode. In-home caregivers can act as advocates for their clients by explaining these behaviors to the client’s friends, family, and medical professionals if they occur. In-home caregivers can also make note if any symptoms become worse or if there is an increase in episodes.
Memory loss can be a consistent symptom of PTSD or one that only emerges during a post traumatic episode. In-home caregivers can assist by writing things down and making reminders for their clients. Memory care also extends beyond memory loss. One aspect of memory care is helping clients cope with traumatic memories. Sometimes just having an in-home caregiver by their side can make the difference between a person being able to let go of a painful memory or going into a panic attack.
There are several methods that can be utilized to de-trigger a person who is experiencing a post traumatic episode so that they can remain grounded. While many people with PTSD are taught how to do these exercises, it can be difficult to initiate them or remember them during a flashback. An in-home caregiver can help by reminding their clients of the de-trigger exercises and by walking their clients through them. For example, one de-trigger exercise is to focus on the five senses — the person with PTSD goes through three things they can smell, three things they can see, three things they can hear, three things they can taste, and three things they can touch. An in-home caregiver can ask their clients to name these things, as well as coach them through breathing exercises and other helpful methods.
Establishing a Practice
There are many ways to cope with having PTSD, such as de-trigger methods, meditation, journaling, and moderate exercise. Since it can be difficult to initiate a coping method in the middle of a post traumatic episode, it is beneficial to establish a regular practice of these methods. This can even help prevent PTSD symptoms and episodes from occurring. In-home caregivers can help by integrating these methods into their care plans and by helping their clients establish a routine.
The Benefits of In-Home Care Services
The benefits of in-home care services extend beyond assisting people who have PTSD. In-home caregivers help with a variety of tasks, such as housekeeping, meal preparation, running errands, scheduling appointments, facilitating outings, arranging transportation, and more.
If you or a loved one are interested in receiving high quality, in-home care services, please contact Alegre Home Care at one of our Northern California locations. We have offices in San Francisco, Oakland, Stockton, San Mateo, San Jose, Santa Rosa, San Rafael, and Modesto and serve multiple counties.