As part of our holiday festivites, along with the family barbecue, many of us will be attending fireworks displays or, in places where they are allowed, launching off a few of our own. (Tonight, I’ll be attending a huge fireworks display that is launched directly over one of our largest lakes here in Idaho.)
While most of us love the brilliance, the colors and the excitement that a good fireworks display brings, there are some who do NOT enjoy them. In fact, for some, fireworks are terrifying.
I was reading an article this week over at UPI.com that talked about how fireworks can be hard on military veterans, the elderly, those who suffer from PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder) and pets. (You can read that article here.)
On the same day that I read the article, a friend of mine said that she and her husband had spent most of the day with her elderly father-in-law, a veteran himself, who interpreted each noise from a launched firework as an attack by the Germans.
It seems to be the individual fireworks launched by over-zealous individuals who cannot wait for the evening of the 4th (or from those that are left-over and set off later in the week) that seem to cause the most problem. “They sound like gunfire and they’re unexpected”, says the author of the article.
We need to remember that many of our aging parents and loved ones served in one (or more) of several wars and as they are aging, and especially if there is dementia involved, they may not view fireworks as the colorful celebration they once happily anticipated.
If you are caring for an aging loved one who is not fond of fireworks, Dr Larry Lachman, a licensed clinical psychologist, recommends the following:
- an air-conditioned movie theatre
- an indoor mall perhaps containing a noisy restaraunt
- a camping trip or hotel visit far away from major fireworks displays
- short-term medication to help with anxiety
If your loved one’s behavior seems to change after this holiday, assistance can also be found from veteran’s groups, hospital programs or your own private physician.
Have any of you experienced this type of reaction from your aging parent of loved one? Can you offer any further tips to help other caregivers?
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