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That's just life: older adult constructs of trauma

Hiskey, S and McPherson, S (2013) 'That's just life: older adult constructs of trauma.' Faculty for the Psychology of Older People Newsletter, 124. 17 - 23. ISSN 1360-3671

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Abstract

Objectives: Researcher, clinical professional and lay understandings of the meaning of trauma may differ. An awareness of older people's perspectives on trauma may be important, given the potential for historical and cultural features to shape how the term is conceptualised among this group, thereby influencing related help-seeking behaviour. Method: Older people living in Essex, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk were interviewed about their perceptions of the term, as was a group of mental health professionals who work with the elderly. Results: Many older people regarded significant adversity as just part of life, with collectively understood methods of avoidance or limited support-seeking pointing to emotional management through non-disclosure. This position seemed further informed by views that disclosure may be self-indulgent, which is in stark contrast to the historical and cultural background in which many older people were raised. The professionals also suggested that some older people may be unused to expressing their emotions. The concept of trauma seems to be relative, with stigma and shame appearing to influence the way that responses to adversity are managed by this age group. Conculsion: We conclude that focused history taking by clinicians may be needed to help elicit symptoms of trauma among elderly patients, while at the same time services might engage in a compassionate dialogue to encourage those suffering in silence to seek help.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Health and Social Care, School of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2014 15:21
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2017 17:48
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/10570

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