Traumatic Stress in Older Adults

Joan M. Cook, Tatyana Biyanova and Diane L. Elmore

in The Oxford Handbook of Traumatic Stress Disorders

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195399066
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Traumatic Stress in Older Adults

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This chapter focuses on older adult trauma survivors. Information is presented on prevalence of acute stress disorder (ASD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); course, functional impairment, suicide risk, and health care utilization in older adults with PTSD; and the impact of demographic factors such as gender, ethnicity, and race on PTSD in older individuals. In general, rates of ASD and PTSD are lower in older adults compared to other age groups. PTSD in older adults has been linked to suicidal ideation and attempts, functional impairment, physical health, and increased healthcare utilization. Although delayed onset of PTSD has been empirically verified in some military samples with World War II veterans and younger adult civilians, it is rare in the absence of any prior symptoms and might more accurately be labeled “delayed recognition.” More information on trauma and PTSD in diverse populations of older adults is needed, such as racial and ethnic minorities, those with severe physical or mental impairment, noncommunity-residing groups, and those from nonindustrialized countries.

Keywords: aged; posttraumatic stress disorder; acute stress disorder; review; epidemiology; delayed-onset posttraumatic stress disorder

Article.  6739 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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