• PTSD and Caregiving

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    Last week my ninety-two year-old father fell twice and injured his back. He was placed in the hospital, where doctors ran a series of tests that revealed TIAs and a back fracture. The sad truth is that my father will continue to have TIAs and fall and the next call will be more ominous.

    As I raced across state to help make decisions regarding my father’s care, I discovered my symptoms of PTSD from years of caregiving were being retriggered: numbness,  insomnia, anxiety, dread, irritability, and depression.

    My husband and I cared for his father with Parkinson’s disease and multiple health issues in our home for five years until just months before his death with COPD in a VA facility. We also cared for my mother with Alzheimer’s in our home and my dad for an additional five years. Those years took an enormous toll.

    Unfortunately, little formal research has been done on the effects of PTSD on caregivers. But Barry Jacobs, a clinical psychologist and author of “The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers” (The Guilford Press, 2006), often sees caregivers who struggle with intrusive thoughts and memories months and even years after a loved one has died.

    The fact that caregiving can take a psychological toll on an individual is no secret. A 2009 study by the National Institutes of Health found that the chronic stress a caregiver can be under – whether from the duration and type of care he or she is providing to a loved one or from dealing with finances and family tensions – can cause significant psychological distress, impaired health habits, psychiatric illness and physical illness.

    My husband and I struggled with the tension of making “right” end-of-life decisions for parents who could not talk. It was our responsibility to know when they were in pain, when they were thirsty, when they needed more medication or less, and to protect them. We lived in a constant state of vigilance and concern that our decisions could physically, emotionally, and mentally harm our parent if we were not appropriately informed caregivers and not able to discern their needs.

    We lived for ten years in a state of overwhelming stress.

    But we were wise enough to put ourselves in counseling, which helped save our marriage and our sanity. But counseling is often not enough. Caregivers may also need to consider trauma treatment, especially if their caregiving experiences are linked to prior trauma experiences in their lives.

    If you are a caregiver, be alert to symptoms of PTSD and consider the possibility that you may need treatment.

    To receive a free eBook I’ve co-written with colleague Wanda Sanchez on post-traumatic stress disorder, go to PTSDPerspectives.org and click on “The Truth about Trauma.” This eBook provides an overview of PTSD, it’s symptoms, causes, treatments, what people with PTSD feel like, and how friends and family can help.

3 Responsesso far.

  1. James Halstrum says:

    Please SHARE this WITH appropriate OTHERS.

    “One example of the principles and practice of Self Help”
    “The Therapeutic Process”
    + Regarding Reoccurring Negative Dreams and Flashbacks.

    EXAMPLE

    A father and son, living on the West coast of Canada ( in the Vancouver area ), loved to go sailing between the mainland and Vancouver Island. The father, over the years, had
    upgraded from a small boat to a larger sail boat and the son was intending to follow his example, but, at the time of this example the son only had a small boat.

    One day the son went for a sail in his boat and a major storm came up which caused his boat to capsize. The son drowned on that day and his body was never recovered.

    As result, the father kept having a reoccurring dream regarding the loss of his son and the lack of closure. ( no funeral for closure because the son’s body was never recovered )

    In the dream the father would go out in his sail boat to where his son had drowned and he would dive over the side and swim down to the bottom. When he would get to the bottom he would find a treasure chest and when he opened it up it would, always, be empty.
    ( it can be said that the father treasured his son )

    At that time, I was a co-facilitator of a therapeutic group in which the father ( as a participant ) told the story of his reoccurring dream and to address the problem the following potential solution was proposed to him.

    Write up his story including his emotions, feelings, appreciations, anger, resentments, positives and negatives of the relationship with his son and with his death, etc.
    Buy a small tree ( hopefully his sons favourite kind of tree).
    Take the write up, the tree and some pictures of his son ( + small personal objects / reminders of his son ) and take them to his son’s favourite place.

    NOTE: His son’s favourite place was up on a forested knoll over looking Horse Shoe Bay on the North Shore of Vancouver where he could see the marina that he and his father used to dock their sail boats.

    The father was to take the write up, the tree, the pictures and the personal
    objects to the knoll.
    Dig a hole for the tree / then read your write up ALOUD..
    Set fire to the papers ( write up ) pictures and personal items.
    Let the smoke go up into the air, the ashes and personal items fall into the hole.
    Plant the tree over them. ( burying them and the problem in order to gain closure )

    The father never had the reoccurring dream again…

    NOTE: People and their family members can, by using these principles and practices, gain closure in relation to various kinds of personal and family issues = loss of a loved one, abuse, addiction, PTSD ( especially reoccurring dreams ), suicide prevention, anger management, beginnings and endings, unfinished business, closure, etc.

    Some guidelines:

    Use your own imagination and creativity when you apply
    these principles and practices to your own personal + family issues.
    This can be done alone and/or with others who can appreciate their attendance
    and find value in the process.

    NOTE: This therapeutic process can stand alone and/or be an addition to
    existing individual or group therapy programs.

    Helpful hints:

    1. You can bury and get over your own personal / family issues and start an anger free life.
    2. Planting ( a living memorial, a bush, shrub or a crop ) represents hope for the future.
    3. “The obstacles in life, often, become precisely what is required”…

    Warm Regards, to family members dealing with the loss of a loved one(s) and related family issues ( past, present and future ).

    Author James L. Halstrum ( The Stone Shadow )
    P.O.Box 1326 Montague, PEI C0A-1R0 + Phone 902-838-2218

    Note: If this helps and/or saves the life of one person, I’ll be pleased.

  2. James Halstrum says:

    If appropriate : Please share and use this in your anti addiction programs (especially for youth).
    Provided by = Pain Pill’s the Addiction. Food for thought and advice…
    Hello, my name is DRUGS – I destroy homes, tear families apart, take your children, and that’s just the start. I’m more costly than diamonds, more costly than gold, the sorrow I bring is a sight to behold. And if you need me, I’m easily found, I live all around you, in schools and in town. I live with the rich, I live with the poor, I live down the street, and maybe next door. My power is awesome; Try me, you’ll see. But if you do, you may NEVER break free. Just try me once and I might let you go, but try me twice, and I’ll own your soul. When I possess you, you’ll steal and you’ll lie. You do what you have to just to get high. The crimes you’ll commit, for my narcotic charms will be worth the pleasure you’ll feel in my arms. You’ll lie to your mother; you’ll steal from your dad. When you see their tears, you should feel sad. But you’ll forget your morals and how you were raised, I’ll be your conscience,I’ll teach you my ways. …I take kids from parents, and parents from kids, I turn people from God, and separate friends. I’ll take everything from you, your looks and your pride, I’ll be with you always, right by your side. You’ll give up everything… your family, your home… your friends, your money, then you’ll be alone. I’ll take and take, till you have nothing more to give.When I’m finished with you you’ll be lucky to live. If you try me be warned this is no game. If given the chance, I’ll drive you insane. I’ll ravage your body; I’ll control your mind. I’ll own you completely; your soul will be mine. The nightmares I’ll give you while lying in bed, the voices you’ll hear from inside your head. The sweats, the shakes, the visions you’ll see; I want you to know, these are all gifts from me. But then it’s too late, and you’ll know in your heart, that you are mine, and we shall not part. You’ll regret that you tried me, they always do, but you came to me, not I to you. You knew this would happen. Many times you were told, but you challenged my power, and chose to be bold. You could have said no, and just walked away. If you could live that day over, now what would you say? I’ll be your master; you will be my slave, I’ll even go with you, when you go to your grave. Now that you have met me , what will you do? Will you try me or not? Its all up to you. I can bring you more misery than words can tell. Come take my hand, let me make your life hell. , If you think this just might help ONE person, COPY and paste +Hope this helped someone today.
    My Note: “Wanna-B addicts choose to use”. This is for folks who are determined to design their own self destruction and future health problems through choosing to smoke or use anything addictive in any form. Don’t blame anyone or anything but yourselves.. Choose to quit or never start. It’s usually a need to fit in ( birds of a feather use together to become addicted). Pro OC people and supporters know their will always be a percentage of citizens who want to design their own destruction / failure and OC will provide the tools / products / services for them to accomplish their goals…as they always have…OC = Organized Crime, it’s in bed with governments, GLOBALLY.. + Grow up = not weed..

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