Q: A friend of mine moved her mother in with her after the recent gas explosions. The elder’s home had minimal damages and all the repairs have been completed. Her mother is terrified to return to her home. She has not been sleeping well at night and cries at the least little thing. My friend doesn’t know what to do and she is really worried about her mother. Can you suggest how to move forward with this issue?
A: Individuals who have lived through a natural disaster (earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, forest fires for example) or a traumatic event may start to display symptoms that affect their ability to function in their day-to-day life. They may become irritable, have mood swings, become depressed, have flashbacks, or become anxious. There may be a change in eating or sleep patterns or the trauma may manifest in actual physical symptoms such as headaches, chest pain or difficulty breathing.
It is important to point out while not every person will react this way it is not totally unusual. Some people will manage to return to a sense of normalcy within a short period of time while others find they are unable to regain control of their lives for months. It will be essential for anyone who seems to be trapped in feelings of doom and gloom to seek professional help to prevent long-term psychological damage.
Many health insurance plans have a mental health benefit which will cover the cost of counseling. If this is not an option Family Services of the Merrimack Valley is offering three free individual counseling sessions to residents “struggling emotionally in the wake of the gas disaster.” This will be available during December and into January. Call 978-327-6632 to make an appointment. The number of slots will be limited so do not delay in calling.
Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our staff is available for a no-cost consultation, set up at your convenience, to help guide you through your caregiving experience. For more details or to schedule an appointment, please call 800-892-0890.
Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Please direct your correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc., Age Information Department, 280 Merrimack Street, Suite 400, Lawrence, MA 01843. Joan Hatem-Roy is the CEO of Elder Services.