Psychological and Emotional Stress Experienced Term Paper

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As one study states, "Suicide rates for the elderly, thirty-five per 100,000 are higher than any other age group..." (Oriol W.) a study by Butler, Lewis and Sunderland (1991) also amplifies this data and refers to the increase of depressive moods in the elderly which can also lead to extreme states of stress. These factors are obviously compounded by the events and trauma in natural disasters and can lead to severe psychological problems in the elderly.

Another factor that is often mentioned is transfer trauma. This occurs when the elderly have to be suddenly moved from their normal environment or home during disasters. This can cause extreme stress and disorientation in older people, who have become dependent and accustomed to their surrounding and may fear losing their support system.

In conclusion, all of the above factors emphasize that natural disasters can increase and exacerbate stress and anxiety in the elderly and possibly lead to serious psychological issues. Perceptions and feelings of vulnerability have been found to be an important contributing factor. At the same it is also important to realize that studies also show that older people can be more resilient to natural disasters than is often thought to be the case. This can be due to adaptive factors and coping techniques learnt over the years. Javois (1998) notes that volunteering is relatively high among the older populations of America, which tends to indicate strength rather then weakness in the elderly.


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In the United States the percentage of people 65 or older increased from 4% in 1900 to about 13% in the late 1990s. In 1900, only about 3 million of the nation's people had reached 65. By 1998, the number of senior citizens had increased to about 34 million. Population experts estimate that more than 50 million Americans -- about 17% of the population -- will be 65 or older in 2020." (Old age).....

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