Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in Older Adults   [open pdf - 178KB]

This article on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) focuses on the impact of trauma on older adults. From the article: "Despite the increase in research on the impact of trauma in younger populations, considerably little is known about the extent and consequences of traumatic exposure in older adults. Most studies examining the impact of traumatic exposure either do not recruit sufficient numbers of older adults to examine age effects, or fail to include them at all. Case studies and the limited research currently available suggest that there are both developmental and cohort differences between younger and older individuals, which may affect the manifestation, course, assessment, and treatment of trauma-related distress in late life. Many developmental changes that occur in older adulthood constitute stressors. These include diminished sensory capacities, decreased mobility, physical frailty, income shrinkage and financial limitations, loss of friends and social status, isolation, changes in housing, multiple medications, complex medical problems, ill health, retirement, widowhood, cognitive impairment or loss, and impaired self-care. Unresolved distal or recent trauma may interact negatively with these age-related changes to affect physical and mental health functioning in later life. [...] In summary, the impact and effects of trauma can be long lasting, and indeed PTSD does occur in older adults. The symptom course is variable, with some being continuously troubled, others having waxing and waning of symptoms across the lifespan, and some remaining symptom-free (Zeiss & Dickman, 1989). Trauma-related distress may be less intense in some circumstances, but does resemble PTSD in younger adults. Assessment needs to be comprehensive and, when special circumstances, like cognitive impairment, are present, requires special adaptation, such as observation and collateral reports. Empirically based treatments for older adults with trauma-related distress are critically needed."

Public Domain
Retrieved From:
National Center for PTSD: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/
Media Type:
PTSD Research Quarterly (Summer 2001), v.12 no.3
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