Is there such a thing as post traumatic stress syndrome for caregivers? - AgingCare.com

Is there such a thing as post traumatic stress syndrome for caregivers?

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I had a painful and extremely vivid "fake" dream last night - in that - it never happened but it's still a nightmare. In that dream, my mom left her walker and then fell once she found me and I got so angry with her.

1. Thank God it was just a dream.
2. I never yelled at her in real life. Maybe I fussed but never yelled like I did in my dream.
3. In this dream, for whatever reason (I think I went to a public bathroom), I had to leave her alone for a few minutes and next thing I knew she tried to find me without her walker and then she fell when she found me.

I was so angry with her in my dream! Then, I was angry that she waited to fall right in front of me and (hate to say it) left me to sort it out.

Long story short, it was just a dream. If it had been real/true, she would've been in a wheelchair. I never would've taken her somewhere, no matter how pretty, if it required her to walk long or far. Still, it's odd.

It's odd because sometimes I can't even remember what I ate yesterday and yet this dream of her falling and me yelling at her was so vivid, when none of it happened. I'm usually crazy but in a fun way. This was not fun at all. I canceled attending an event today because I'd have these morbid thoughts and knew I wouldn't be fun at all. Oi. Thanks for listening.

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I believe that our "new normal" is going to be different than before stressful caregiving. Even for those of us with multiple people to care for, certain events with certain people can come back to us for a long time.

We can have "flashbacks" for years. Still, if you are having serious problems, you may want to see a counselor for awhile just to talk things out.

Just to put things in context a bit, you may also like to read: https://www.agingcare.com/articles/after-caregiving-is-stress-the-new-normal-163252.htm

Take care of yourself now,
Carol
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Hello, I work as a professional caregiver, but I was the primary caregiver of my grandparents for about 7 years. I was misdiagnosed schizophrenic by my PC because after my grandfather died I was left with auditory hallucinations of my grandfather yelling my name whenever I turned on any kind of running water. I went to a schizophrenic specialist that diagnosed me with developed "caregiver psychosis" (that was a relief) from neglecting my years of "caregiver burnout." It took a year for the hallucinations to stop, but the lack of personal individuality took a few more years. I had a lot of cognitive behavioral therapy(CBT) and got off the meds and learned how to live life on lifes terms through CBT. The post caught my eye right away, as I relate. I have a long term goal to write a "self-help" caregiver guide/book explaining all of the psychological aspects in a very REAL, and relatable way. The closest I came to was "Elder Rage", but it is more pleasurable during the experience. Check out the CBT, you are challenged and must put in the work to get the results. ^_^
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This may well just be a dream, nothing more sinister.
Caring involves supressing rage and anger and impatience. Whether you are at times angry and frustrated with your loved one, or at the disease/old age reducing them to 'toddlers'.
It is only natural that that suppressed anger/frustration finds a way to pop out in your dreams.

The fact that you never shouted at mum means there is no problem here. But even if you did on odd occassion, we can't beat ourselves up.
It is the toughest job and none of us are really trained to cope.

You sound upset with yourself, yet you have no need to be.

I'd recommend Mindfulness Training (great iphone app, Mindfulness Daily, that reminds you gently and talks you through breathing and Mindfulness exercises... got me through awful last 3 months of my lovely mum's life this year, and the funeral, and is incorporated into my life now to the piint tgat 2 deep calm breaths calms me diwn immediately, whatever the situation.
You can also scour YouTube for Mindfulness Training clips... try a few to find one that works for you.
I recommend them to everyone on this site. Sounds a bit 'hippy', but I have my 89 year old dad hooked on them now too. (You can buy CDs if you don't have iphones.. but Youtube is a great free resource.)
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I think there is PTSD for caregivers. Anything that is traumatic can cause it. I am also finding with my situation the caregivers receive little attention for their needs when asking for help. I have been told to get out of my situation if it is bothering me or increasing my anxiety.
Years ago when my Daughter was molested I was told to place her in foster care as she was pushing me over the edge (from a therapist). This is unfortunate that the views of some are not based on your will but on the wills of theirs. My view was it is MY Daughter and MY responsibility and she was sick. I needed guidance not more get out of it advice. I dropped the therapist. (I was also diagnosed with PTSD)
I get similar advice with my Dad. Instead of helping me cope it us usually get out of it. It is the popular opinion of many.I think if there was more support many would be able to deal with their caregiver roles much better.
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Absolutely. Glad I'm Here nailed it with the additional stress of not having sibling support, or in my case having a sibling who caused a lot of grief as our last parent was dying and was only concerned with what was their cut.

I lost both my parents that I took care of within just over a year of each other, had no help, and am going to a counselor. In addition to a bereavement support group. It does help.

I am going to add a comment and I started a thread on this. I now get comments from people who are CLUELESS and think you're just supposed to go out and get an office job, that your parents are gone so go get a job.

Well I don't have to do that thankfully, although I am going to look at working in some type of caregiving job, but they don't get you have suffered great losses, you HAD A JOB, a very important one, that didn't end at 5 pm, or had weekends off.

I am amazed at people who seem resentful of me, where was there resentment when I took care of two elderly parents????

But, yes PTSD is very real.
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I have heard of PTSD in caregiving; and there are so many other factors that can add additional stress. For example, when siblings create additional issues without offer of assistance, or while providing caring your own home is damaged by fire, if Mom passes, siblings sell the house, you have lost nearly everything over the course of caring, including your best friend and one of your best sources of support at too young of an age. And there are student loans to repay from that Master's degree completed shortly after beginning caregiving, the potential employers that think you are not suitable because you have not been working in a number of years. I could go on and on. Yes, it has all happened and is absolutely overwhelming and may never be able to overcome all of this. First step apply to have student loans forgiven so they don't go after my social security which I am eligible for in two years.
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im one year post watching my mom lose her sanity then her life and now im watching my aunt lose her mind . " rebuilding " onesself is kind of where im feel im at right now . when i do something thats just for myself it feels hollow and trivial . caregiving evidently programmed me to put my own needs on a back burner . theres such a joy in giving and im missing that joy / purpose ..
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Post traumatic stress is usually a term applied to returning soldiers these day who have experience first hand horrific events. It can happen to anyone who has been through something stressful. With the military something in civilian life will trigger the memories and for some it becomes so bad they can no longer function. For the rest of us something as simple as a smell will trigger memories which may be pleasant or unpleasant. usually dreams result from something that has happened in everyday life and while you are asleep your subconscious does the rest.
if you are so badly affected by dreams such as this a professional can be very helpful
Just airing it on a forum like this and hearing other peoples' experiences is a very good start.

generousentrophy, I would encourage you to write your caregiving maunual. I too have read Elder Rage. it was of course only one woman's struggle with the problems of caregiving elderly parents. it was a very interesting story and naturally the author did experience the stress and frustration and clearly if had an adverse effect on her life and health but she had the one thing most caregivers do not have which was the money to be able to seek help ang get respite. You have the advantage of being both a professional and family caregiver which are very different scenarious and have worked with more than one client so could be very objective in your narrative. i would suggest something like "Caregiving for dummies" Short easy to read chapters dealing with one problem at a time more like the questions and discussions on this forum. Also include all the basic nursing instruction because some one will move Mom into a nice granny flat in the home and she joins them for meals and they take her to appointments elc but when the time comes have no idea how to help her bathe and deal with other personal care.
Everyone has the best of intentions but often do not have the information to be really helpful. For example a grab bar by the toilet is a very good idea but no one thinks to sit Mom on the toilet and let her tell you where it would be most helpful. Go for it this would help so many new and prospective caregivers and a few old ones too
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I know I have been seeing more and more articles on Caregiving and stress in our local newspaper which goes worldwide "The Washington Post" so that is good it is becoming in the forefront. Even WebMD has a section on Caregiving Burnout.

I went for therapy for about 6 months, the doctor was ok but she didn't have much background with talking to patients dealing with aging parents. She did give one good bit of advice that has stuck with me...~~ that my parents made their choice to live where they are living, therefore they need to take full responsibility of that choice~~

And occasionally I will mention to my parents when they complain they have no transportation that they choose to remain in their home of 35 years instead of going to a retirement community that HAS transportation for them. Or if they grumbled they are bored, again it was their choice, yada, yada, yada.
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It sounds as if part of you is still on guard--and pulled together two strong fears to create your nightmare: fear of your mother falling and fear of losing control over your own anger or frustration, which could hurt your mother in a different way. To a caregiver, both of these represent failure to protect the loved one. The emotional tone of nightmares can definitely follow you through your day. Reassure yourself that your job has been successfully completed. And it might be better to go on with the day you have planned rather than stay at home with the remains of your nightmare, especially if it will be with someone you can talk to, who will reinforce reality (that you did well, your mother was loved and cared for to the last).
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