4 Questions to Ask Trauma Therapist for Seniors
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Trauma is an emotional response to an individual event, series of events, or set of circumstances that can be sudden or extensive, which present physical or psychological harm or are life-threatening. A person may experience trauma as a response to any event they personally find physically or emotionally threatening or harmful. A traumatized person can experience a wide range of emotions both immediately after the event and also in the long term. A traumatized person may feel overwhelmed, helpless, shocked, or struggle to process their experiences. Trauma can result in the development of physical, mental, social, and spiritual well-being symptoms. Trauma can have longstanding effects on a person’s health and wellness. If symptoms persist and do not decrease in severity, this can be an indication that the trauma has developed into a mental health disorder called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
There are several types of trauma, which include:
Acute trauma: This trauma results from a single stressful or threatening event.
Chronic trauma: This trauma results from frequent and prolonged exposure to highly stressful events such as domestic abuse or bullying.
Complex trauma: This trauma results from exposure to multiple traumatic events.
Secondary trauma: Also called vicarious trauma, these trauma symptoms result from close contact with someone who has experienced a traumatic event.
Trauma does not discriminate based on age and can occur to individuals of all ages and can cause lifelong impacts.
● Symptoms associated with traumatic stress may not dissipate overtime for all survivors.
● As trauma survivors age, trauma symptoms can reappear and advance.
● Symptoms of trauma can progress after long symptom-free periods.
● Symptoms of trauma may appear for the very first time during older adulthood.
● Symptoms of trauma emerging in older adulthood may be more extreme.
As this is the greatest phase of social, financial, and physical change, traumatic stress symptoms can continue and remerge in older adulthood. These changes can trigger a traumatic stress response even for those who had previously been coping well. As trauma survivors age, their trauma symptoms can return and evolve as a result of major life changes such as changes in familial roles, the beginning of retirement, the emergence of health issues, loss of independence, and the loss of loved ones. Coping mechanisms that had previously been used to deal with trauma triggers or symptoms may no longer be available or possible. Coping mechanisms such as socialization with professional networks and physical activities such as exercise may no longer be possible or available.
An individual’s trauma exposure is linked to their inclination for developing a wide variety of conditions that can negatively impact their health. Older adult trauma survivors are particularly susceptible to negative health impacts as their trauma history can result in high rates of physical, mental, and cognitive decline. Trauma can affect various areas of the brain and can lead to permanent changes in neurological response resulting in continuing traumatic stress symptoms. These symptoms can include constant fear, hypervigilance, and difficulties sleeping, concentrating, thinking clearly, and regulating emotions. Seniors with a history of trauma may experience worsening trauma symptoms with the onset of dementia.
Trauma is associated with a number of health conditions, including physical health, lung disease, gum disease, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders, endocrine disorders, and reproductive disorders. Trauma is also associated with mental health conditions, like anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, mood disorders, eating disorders, and substance abuse. Additionally, trauma is also associated with cognitive health involving dementia, sleep disorders, and cognitive impairments.
There may be the difficulty in uncovering trauma history in older adults because:
● Older adults may not see the role of trauma in their continued health and well-being.
● Older adults may experience anxiety related to the stigma associated with their trauma history.
● Healthcare providers may not recognize the signs or symptoms of trauma in older adults.
● Healthcare providers may not know how to provide treatment for trauma symptoms.
● Trauma symptoms in older adults can present differently than in younger adults or be disguised by other health conditions.
● Trauma survivors have limited access to person-centered, trauma-informed care.
Symptoms of trauma to watch for include the following:
● Flashbacks and uncontrollable thoughts. At times it can be difficult to control intrusive thoughts and a traumatized person may be plagued by flashbacks. During these flashbacks, the individual feels like they are reliving the traumatic event.
● Avoiding triggers. Thinking about a traumatic event is painful. Older adults may often avoid people, places, and things that might remind them of the event, which can significantly limit their day-to-day activities.
● Behavioral changes. Traumatized older adults can become easily startled and can react inappropriately to triggers that wouldn’t bother most people. They may be prone to outbursts of anger and anxiety that are difficult for others around them to understand.
● Negativity: Trauma changes the way a person thinks which can lead to more negative thoughts, difficulty trusting others, feeling guilty, anxious, shame, and terrified.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from trauma, don’t wait – get help today. Our team of professionals at Restoration Recovery is here to help you live life to its fullest. We serve patients from Chattanooga TN, Fairmount TN, Walden TN, Harrison TN, Middle Valley TN, Signal Mountain, TN and surrounding areas.