The correct answer is B. Older adults report fewer traumatic events than younger individuals.
Up until the past decade, large-scale epidemiological studies examining the prevalence and impact of trauma did not include sufficient numbers of older adults to adequately examine the effects of age. More recent investigations of community-dwelling adults in the US generally indicate that older adults report fewer traumatic events and related psychiatric symptoms than younger individuals. For example, the prevalence of past-year PTSD was significantly higher for younger (4.3%) and middle-aged (5.2%) adults compared with older adults (2.6%) and so were the odds of comorbid psychiatric disorders.1
However, some have surmised that trauma is a hidden variable in the lives of older adults, impacting them in ways they may not recognize or be willing to admit.2 For instance, older adults may have experienced trauma but do not recognize the potential deleterious health effects or do not disclose these experiences to health care providers. Moreover, health care providers may not recognize trauma and related distress in older adults.
This lack of recognition or misattribution of trauma-related symptoms can have negative implications for treatment and recovery, including the design of ineffective treatment plans and administration of incongruous psychotherapy, medication, or other medical intervention. According to major PTSD guidelines, four medications have received a conditional recommendation for use in the treatment of PTSD: sertraline, paroxetine, fluoxetine, and venlafaxine.
For more on this topic, see PTSD in Late Life, on which this quiz is based.
1. Reynolds K, Pietrzak R, Mackenzie C, Chou K, Sareen J. Post-traumatic stress disorder across the adult lifespan: Findings from a nationally representative survey. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2016;24:81-93.
2. Nichols B, Czirr R. Post-traumatic stress disorder: hidden syndrome in elders. Clin Geriontol. 1986;5:417-433.