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Trauma in Late Life 

Trauma in Late Life
Chapter:
Trauma in Late Life
Author(s):

Kenneth Sakauye

, and James E. Nininger

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190457136.003.0009
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date: 28 January 2022

This chapter focuses on the prevalence of trauma exposure and posttraumatic problems in the elderly and reviews information on resilience and suggested treatment approaches. While posttraumatic stress disorder in the elderly has been studied, less is known about other common trauma- and stressor-related disorders including adjustment disorder, acute stress disorder, and traumatic grief. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fifth edition) defines trauma as “exposure or actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence.” It must be directly experienced, witnessed, or occur to a family member or friend, or it could be a repeated or extreme exposure to aversive details of a traumatic event. No event is always traumatic, and, conversely, even a seemingly mild negative event can be traumatic to some individuals. Two presumed variables are (a) appraisal of the situation (whether a person feels in control) and (b) individual biological differences in responsiveness.

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