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Lifetime trauma, emotional support, and life satisfaction among older adults

Publication Abstract

Krause, Neal. 2004. "Lifetime trauma, emotional support, and life satisfaction among older adults." Gerontologist, 44(5): 615-623.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine the relationships among lifetime exposure to traumatic events, emotional support, and life satisfaction in three cohorts of older adults. Design and Methods: Face-to-face interviews were conducted with a nationwide sample of 1,518 older people in 2003. Approximately 500 elders were interviewed in each of the following age cohorts: Young-old (age 6574), old-old (75-84), and oldest-old (85 and older). Results: The findings suggest that exposure to lifetime trauma is associated with less life satisfaction in all three age cohorts. The data further reveal that emotional support offsets the effects of trauma on feelings of life satisfaction in the old-old and the oldest-old. The stress buffering properties of emotional support were especially evident in the oldest-old cohort. Implications: The findings underscore the need to develop interventions that help older people deal more effectively with lifetime trauma. Moreover, the results suggest that interventions providing emotional support may be especially helpful for the oldest-old.

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