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Aging and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Edited by Paul E. Ruskin, M.D., and John A. Talbott, M.D.

  • ISBN 978-0-88048-513-5
  • Item #8513

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Aging and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) explores the psychological sequelae of severe trauma in elderly patients and the manifestations in old age of psychological symptoms secondary to trauma experienced earlier in life. Although methodological issues have made the scientific study of PTSD difficult, a number of well-designed research projects have begun to identify some of the key factors of aging and PTSD.

Do elderly patients respond differently to stress than younger people, and do the effects of early stress change over time? These questions are the focus of the book's 22 contributors. Research with World War II combat veterans, Holocaust survivors, elderly victims of trauma, and abused elderly persons provides new insight into why they might experience trauma differently than younger individuals. Longitudinal data collected over a 14-year period provide a fascinating comparison of psychological distress and PTSD among older and younger people.


  • Introduction. The physiology and psychology of successful aging.

    Part I: Early-Age Trauma and Its Impact on Later Late.

    The aging veteran of World War II: psychiatric and life course insights. Late onset of posttraumatic stress disorder in aging resistance veterans in the Netherlands.

    Part II: Late-Age Trauma.

    Severe stress and the elderly: are older adults at increased risk for posttraumatic stress disorder? Age-related reactions to the buffalo creek dam collapse: effects in the second decade. Elder maltreatment and posttraumatic stress disorder.

    Part III: Models of Stress in the Elderly.

    The impact of ordinary major and small negative life events on older adults. Age differences in physiological responses to stress. Behavioral and physiological response to stress in aging animals. Conclusions and directions for further research. Index.

About the Authors

Paul E. Ruskin, M.D., is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and Chief of Geriatric Psychiatry at the Baltimore Veterans Administration Medical Center, Baltimore, Maryland.

John A. Talbott, M.D., is Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland. He is the editor or coeditor of numerous books in psychiatry, including a book about posttraumatic stress disorder in Vietnam veterans.

The inclusion of these three parts allows for a broad review of aging and traumatic events, and , because of this breadth adds to the literature in this important area. A strength of this book is its consideration of successful aging and the benefits that may come from having lived long and survived earlier challenges including trauma. . . . This book is appropriate for health care professionals and researchers seeking a broad review of aging and PTSD.—Clinical Gerontologist

Ruskin and Talbott have made an important contribution to the fields of gerontology and traumatic stress through this volume. They have elegantly summarized the state of the science and elaborated questions that remain in an interesting and highly readable format.—The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

This excellent book addresses many questions about the interaction between age and the response to stress. The organization of the book is superb. Excellent introductory and summary chapters provide succinct overviews. The individual chapters provide both literature reviews and data about animal and clinical studies that bring the reader to a state-of-the-art understanding about important current concepts of aging, the stress response, and the interaction between them.—Earl L. Giller Jr., M.D., Ph.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut

Anyone interested in posttraumatic stress disorder or the aging process will be attracted by this important book. The editors convey what is known of the two subjects' interrelationship and clarify this information through an excellent division of their works into three sections: Early-Age Trauma and Its Impact on Later Life, Late-Age Trauma, and Models of Stress in the Elderly. Those with an interest in gerontology and/or the lasting effects of posttraumatic experiences will find this book a useful and ready reference.—Lawrence C. Kolb, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons

[A] unique source of information and a basic reading, given the paucity of research in the area of post-traumatic stress disorder in older adults.—Canadian Journal on Aging

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