Advancing Care for Holocaust Survivors, Older Adults with a History of Trauma, and Their Family Caregivers

 
 

Most older adults have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lifetimes. For some older adults, like Holocaust survivors, refugees and victims of war, veterans, first responders, survivors of domestic violence, and older adults who have experienced racial, economic, and gender discrimination, the trauma may have been long and drawn out, with exposure occurring on an ongoing or repeated basis. For others, like older adults who experienced a sexual assault, an act of gun violence, a major car accident, or a natural disaster, the trauma they experienced may have been sudden and shocking, but just as devastating. 

 

The impacts of trauma can be severe and long-lasting. Trauma has been associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders, chronic fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Trauma can also lead to difficulties trusting others and maintaining relationships. 

 

For older adults with a history of trauma, the implications of trauma can be complicated. The role changes and losses associated with aging, such as retirement, declines in physical health and mobility, and the death of loved ones can re-activate traumatic stress in older adults who had been coping well for years or even decades after a traumatic experience. Trauma can also lead to an increased risk for dementia and exacerbate dementia symptoms, adding even more challenges to family caregivers caring for loved ones struggling with cognitive decline.    

 

We help local organizations serve and support older adults with a history of trauma and their family caregivers. With funds from the United States Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living/Administration on Aging and additional philanthropic dollars, we develop innovations in ‘person-centered, trauma-informed’ care for Holocaust survivors, older adults with a history of trauma, and their family caregivers. Additionally, we increase the ability of aging services providers to implement PCTI care for these vulnerable populations. ‘Person-centered, trauma-informed’ (PCTI) care is a holistic approach to service provision that promotes the dignity, strength, and empowerment of trauma survivors by incorporating knowledge about trauma into all agency programs, policies, and procedures. 

 

On this website, you can learn about PCTI care, the social services and critical supports innovations funded by the Center, grant opportunities, and how to make your practice, agency, and community more person-centered and trauma-informed.  You can find data on trauma and older adults, presentations on PCTI care, and webinar recordings on each of these topics. We will update these resources frequently, so check back with us regularly, or email us if you have any questions about PCTI care or our work. We look forward to working with you to improve the health and well-being of Holocaust survivors, older adults with a history of trauma, and the family members who care for them.