Did you know? Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) doesn’t only affect soldiers returning from the battlefield. It can happen to anyone who has experienced a stressful event, and can affect seniors who have had a bad fall and been hurt.

Picture this: An elderly woman falls and breaks her hip. She is hospitalized, surgically treated and released to a nursing facility to continue her recovery. But whenever a healthcare professional mentions her injury she gets visibly agitated and upset. She’s having trouble falling asleep and when she finally dozes off she sleeps fitfully. And she’s lost hope that any of her plans for the future will be possible now.

Symptoms of PTSD

These symptoms are actually signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, and studies show that many elderly people experience them after an injury. As a healthcare professional, you can help by noting any of these symptoms and recommending that the patient undergo an assessment to determine whether they are actually suffering from PTSD.

Stress Masquerading as Physical Pain

Research shows that older adults tend to complain more about physical ailments and less about emotional issues, so keep your eyes out for stress which is masquerading as physical pain. Depression, anxiety, changes in mood and activity as well as sleep difficulties, gastrointestinal issues and cognitive difficulties may all be signs of PTSD.

Treatment of PTSD

PTSD tends to lessen over time, especially in the case of stress related to a fall and injury. But there is also treatment, including Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Prolonged Exposure (PE) and medication. Caregivers play an important role in recovery from PTSD, so, as always, be cheerful, optimistic and supportive of your patient as he or she struggles to recover.

June has been designated PTSD Awareness Month and June 27 is National PTSD Awareness Day.The purpose of PTSD Awareness Month is to encourage everyone to raise public awareness of PTSD and effective treatments. Learn more at the National Center for PTSD website.