Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is most often associated with younger Veterans returning from combat, but similar symptoms can appear in those who have been part of civilian life for many years. This is referred to as late-onset stress symptomatology (LOSS).
Veterans with LOSS often return from service with no serious mental health problems and function normally for an extended period of time. As they age, however, they start to experience symptoms of PTSD that interfere with their daily routines. Some of the factors that can trigger LOSS include:
- Having more free time due to retirement
- Having adult children move away
- Suffering the loss of a loved one
- Experiencing age-related medical problems
- Seeing news coverage of current events related to military activity
- Being unable to engage in previous coping mechanisms due to age, declining health, or environmental factors
Diagnosis and Treatment
Veterans age 55 and over may be asked to complete the LOSS Scale, a 44-item self-report that evaluates late-onset stress symptomatology as a supplement to the more traditional PTSD assessment. There is also a shorter 11-item form (LOSS-SF) used to screen Veterans who are actively re-examining their past wartime experiences.
Treatment for LOSS is similar to the recommendations for PTSD treatment in younger Veterans. Wellness-focused lifestyle habits such as regular exercise, good nutrition, proper sleep hygiene, and regular plans to spend time with loved ones can help an older Veteran build resilience. Counseling and medication may also be recommended.
Getting VA Disability Benefits
Like their younger counterparts, aging Veterans who suffer from service-connected PTSD are entitled to VA disability benefits that provide medical care and cash compensation to make it easier to manage their condition. However, aging Veterans are more likely to need an experienced attorney’s help to access their benefits due to the challenges associated with establishing a service connection after an extended time period.
A skilled attorney can locate previous records, suggest new forms of medical evidence, collect buddy statements, and ensure that the law is being properly interpreted when processing your claim. Contact the office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn how we can help.