How might the trauma of adverse childhood experiences impact the health of older adults?

As I am now in my 60s, I am even more eager to do what I can to maintain my health, physically, mentally and emotionally. My personal goal is to live to 120 years of age and to be teaching yoga beyond the age of 100! Perhaps I will shoot for breaking the Guiness World Record as the oldest yoga teacher, currently held by Tao Porchon-Lynch, who died at the age of 101 in 2020. Who knows, right? Well, new research into the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in older adults might level set my expectations a bit.

 In 1995, Kaiser Permanente began the original study collecting data on (ACEs). Since the publication of that data, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expanded the scope of such data collection through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Since 2009, every state has begun to collect such data in its efforts for prevent violence, recognizing the long-term health impacts of ACEs. Most of the research to this point has focused on the negative mpact of such ACEs on the health and well-being of children and early to mid-life adults. New research took a look on the potential impact on older adults, specifically ages 50 years and older.

This new research study out of UCSF investigated the connection between ACEs and physical mobility, cognitive impairment, and functional disability in 3,387 participants between the ages of 50 and 97 years of age. Raising the collective awareness of ACEs, along with their traumatic impacts on our children, is important to implement preventive measures moving forward. As the results of this study highlight, it is also vital for implementing trauma-informed geriatric care approaches, since older adults who have had adverse childhood experiences are more likely to experience physical and cognitive functional impairments.