Past Life Traumas May Thwart Aging in Place

Most older adults prefer to age in place in their own homes for as long as possible, but there are many factors to consider in order for seniors to thrive while living independently.  Access to care, finances, community accessibility, and also psychological factors influence the quality of life seniors experience.  People who have suffered past life traumas may have a heightened sense of anxiety around aging, and support is available to help seniors feel safer at home and have a healthier old age. 

According to a recent McMaster Optimal Aging Portal Blog post, a review of 32 studies that investigated the link between a history of trauma and the experience of aging in place found that past trauma can worsen feelings of uncertainty and insecurity about aging.  Aging in place does not always mean staying in one home permanently, but rather choosing your living environment and being able to access care. 

By providing resources that support older adults aging in a safe and adequate home environment, seniors who have experienced trauma can better adapt to aging with greater resilience and quality of life.  Seniors who have experienced neglect, oppression, sexual abuse, violence, complicated grief, or another very difficult life event may be highly sensitive to their home environment.  

Nearly one-third of Canadians have experienced sexual or physical abuse by an adult before the age of 15, according to Statistics Canada.  Many adults who experienced trauma as a child or in adulthood have developed health issues such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, or heart disease.  Past life traumas can also lead to risky behaviors, mental illness, substance abuse, unemployment, and homelessness. 

Seniors in crisis or who need support following a trauma can find local resources to secure safe and affordable housing.  Seniors in distress can call 911 for urgent help or 211 to access information about supportive housing resources in their community. Visit the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) website to learn about housing options for seniors.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development can help American seniors navigate housing choices and provide a housing counselor.