With the overwhelming growth in the elderly population, some of those being Holocaust survivors, it would seem beneficial that nurses obtain at least a general education the subject, in case they ever came across a patient that experienced that tremendous stain on history. Some would believe that especially in nursing homes, nurses should obtain special education on the topic, to be more sensitive to residents. As Holocaust survivors progress in age, taking up a certain amount of beds in hospitals and particularly in nursing homes, nurses should be trained/educated on the history of the Holocaust and its effects on survivors, so that they can anticipate and help their residents.
Many articles cite that nurses who are tasked with caring for survivors find it incredibly demanding, as a lot of these patients require added attention due to what they experienced. Along with a nurse’s general training, it is important for a nurse to be consistently cognizant to the fact that their patient went through a specific type of trauma that sticks with them every day. If the nurse is not educated not only on the horrors of the Holocaust, but also about any specific trauma the patient may have gone through, it will be difficult for the nurse to care for the patient and detrimental to the patient’s own well-being.
Understandably, the majority of holocaust survivors still living experience some form of posttraumatic stress disorder, commonly known as PTSD, and nursing homes, or rather, long-term care facilities, should train their nurses to understand the effects of PTSD and how to handle situations when a resident has an outburst. But there is a difference between just generally knowing how to respond to an outburst and knowing a patient’s history. If a nurse understands what a resident has gone through, such as the holocaust, and can identify certain triggers or what may help their resident cope, that can drastically improve their resident’s quality of life. For example, let’s say that it’s shower day for a resident. This resident is mobile but is consistently refusing a shower, opting for a bed bath instead. Every time the topic of a shower comes up, the resident begins to scream and throw things. This resident also happens to be a holocaust survivor. Many survivors had to experience traumatic showers if they were imprisoned in concentration camps. For some survivors, even the sound of running water could be trigger. So, if nurses were aware and educated, there is quite a possibility that they could help those residents whose PTSD get in the way of their own health.
However, there is a growing group of people who are stressing that Holocaust survivors should stay away from long-term care institutions because of the potential triggers. There have even been Senate Congressional committees that strongly believe that survivors should live out the rest of their lives at home, and that they have all the necessary care that they would get in a facility. Unfortunately, caring for holocaust survivors at home can prove to be much more difficult than caring for average (for lack of a better word) elders, as the conditions they suffered under cause for much more complex care and health situations.
So, a major concern in order to take care of and keep survivors out of nursing homes is the funding to provide for them. Survivor Jack Rubin, who spoke in front of a congressional committee and represents the Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA, did claim that maintaining home health care for survivors does require a significant amount of money. Nevertheless, survivors and advocates still emphasize and fight for survivors to remain at home.
Even at home, many survivors still require care that their families may not be able to provide, so that is again where nurses and caregivers come in. It is imperative that providers are educated on their patient’s history, especially for survivors, and how to help them cope.
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H. Hood is a student at Old Dominion University who is pursuing a degree in Nursing. She possesses a passion for Literature and music and reads voraciously. She has strong beliefs and appreciates looking at life and issues through different perspectives