Elderly and terrorism…Awareness of change in your visits.

Elderly and terrorism

Such a tragedy, as events started to unveil on the attack on Paris. I for one , found myself continually checking in with news and reports. Heartbroken, thinking of families who have lost loved ones and how their lives have , in an instant been turned upside down.

As the day went on I came across a great article on how to explain these attacks to children. As a mother, being able to read through this guidance , will no doubt be a very helpful resource. A sad thing to consider, but ultimately one which at some point will have to be approached. You can read it here,http://time.com/4112751/how-to-talk-to-your-kids-about-the-attacks-in-paris/

Of course, this has now led me on to think of how these attacks may have an effect on our elderly. I’m sure many of you have ladies and gentleman you visit who experience grief around anniversaries of losing loved ones. There is no time limit on any of our emotions. However, world events can trigger heightened emotions , which is why I felt it may be helpful to give a gentle reminder. There may be flashbacks, fear , anxiety, stress, grief….here is an extract from an article I came across, ‘Terrorism and aging’  . It dates back to 2002 and is in regard to 9/11. However, it is something worth reading; to at the very least; bear in mind any changes you may see among those you visit, over the coming days.


Studying veterans of World War II, Elder and Clipp (9) found that the men who had lived through the extreme stress of combat exhibited greater resilience and less helplessness in older age; it is possible that older people in general, having lived through extreme stresses in the past (e.g., World War II, the Holocaust, the Depression), may display greater resilience in dealing with similar stresses. However, this view has been challenged (10), with some clinicians believing that new stresses may trigger memories of past traumatic experiences as well as new symptoms of loss, stress, and grief (11). Unresolved conflicts related to former stressful experiences (such as wartime experiences) may resurface as a result of terrorist activity, particularly to the extent that the new stress or is similar to the old one (9).



In most extreme cases, survivors of the attacks may manifest post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is characterized by flashbacks, emotional detachment, fear, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances. Little is known about PTSD among the elderly population, including how it is optimally managed in this age group; however, elders do not appear to be more predisposed than younger individuals to develop the condition, and symptoms are similar across age groups (12).


As a recap, a few things to look out for:

( Symptoms can vary from person to person.  Please report any concerns you may have their GP or your manager.)

Reliving aspects of the trauma:

  • vivid flashbacks (feeling that the trauma is happening all over again)
  • intrusive thoughts and images
  • nightmares
  • intense distress at real or symbolic reminders of the trauma
  • physical sensations, such as pain, sweating, nausea or trembling.
  • panicking when reminded of the trauma
  • being easily upset or angry
  • extreme alertness
  • a lack of or disturbed sleep
  • irritability and aggressive behaviour
  • lack of concentration
  • being easily startled
  • self-destructive behaviour or recklessness.

Avoiding feelings or memories:

  • keeping busy
  • avoiding situations that remind you of the trauma
  • repressing memories (being unable to remember aspects of the event)
  • feeling detached, cut off and emotionally numb
  • being unable to express affection
  • using alcohol or drugs to avoid memories.




Continue to record in their notes, be considerate and allow extra time with them  and report your concerns.

Think of how the coverage may have affected you…be aware of how it may have affected them.


You can visit Mind to understand PTSD here: Mind uk





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