The Fourth is a time for celebration, however, be courteous and mindful of how to celebrate this holiday for those who exemplify courage and sacrifice.
Fourth of July is a time for celebration, a time to appreciate and celebrate hard-fought freedom in the United States. However, if a loved one is suffering from PTSD, the Fourth of July can be a challenging holiday. Independence Day a special chance to celebrate and thank a veteran close to you by making sure they feel safe and comforted during the festivities.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, can occur in those who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event and is common in those who have fought in war. An individual suffering from PTSD can experience intense feelings tied to their experience, which can manifest through flashbacks or nightmares. Behavior changes are common as they may feel intense feelings of anger, fear, sadness, or anxiety. There are certain triggers for people with PTSD that can make it difficult to celebrate the Fourth of July normally- ranging from large crowds to the startling noises that accompany fireworks.
Begin By Talking
It’s important to sit down with your elderly loved one and discuss what may trigger their PTSD. If they are willing, try to discuss their feelings about the Fourth of July and what they are concerned about. Be sure to be completely open and honest and encourage them to do so as well. Establish an environment of trust and understanding so your loved one can feel truly at-ease about their concerns and fears regarding possible scenarios.
Consider Going to Neighbors
It’s important to prepare your elderly veteran for how others celebrate too. While you can’t completely prevent loud celebrations, you can prepare by discussing plans with neighbors and making it aware that there will be an affected veteran next door. In addition to mental preparation, you may have to take optional steps by finding a temporary haven or planning a positive distraction. Ask others to contact you with their possible plans and you can even ask if they will be respectful and aware of your elderly veteran’s needs.
It is even possible to post something outside of the home for your elderly veteran if they agree to do so. This could be a sign or some type of indication asking people to be courteous during Fourth of July and celebrate the holiday with respect.
Create the Right Atmosphere
It is important to create an atmosphere where they feel safe to reduce stress. This could be by darkening the room a bit to prevent bright flashes of light. Incorporate calming music or even smells and scents that induce calm feelings like lavender or peppermint. Even cleaning up clutter and reducing the amount of mess in the room can ease your loved one and make them feel more organized and in control. Learning them some grounding techniques like practicing slow breathing, sensory techniques and mindfulness can also be good for centering them. If symptoms persist and you are worried, contact a professional for expert advice.
Make a Survival Kit
It’s time to ensure they get just as much fun and enjoyment out of Fourth of July as everyone else does. Sit down and talk with your veteran about things that may induce a calm soothing environment. Understand their limits and get some things that they may like to distract themselves. It could start with making their favorite dinner and then making a survival kit of sorts with their favorite snacks, activities, and maybe a pair of earphones or earplugs to reduce the amount of loud sounds they hear. Being there and supporting your loved one through this experience with positive interaction, and a bit of love is crucial.
At Aegis, we are proud to serve veterans. As a Level 5 Partner of the We Honor Veterans program, we support elderly veterans with programs such as the Veteran to Veteran Volunteer program. Contact us today to learn what benefits your elderly veteran may be eligible for.