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Home About Us Press Room Archived Press Releases 2011 Press Releases Seniors Abused During Childhood Face Increased Risk of Sleep Troubles

For Immediate Release
June 8, 2011

Contact: Todd Kluss
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(202) 587-2839

Seniors Abused During Childhood Face Increased Risk of Sleep Troubles

Suffering from parental abuse as a child increases a person’s chances of having poor sleep quality in old age, according to a research article in the current issue of the Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences (Volume 66B, Number 3).

An analysis of data from 877 adults age 60 years and above found that early parental emotional abuse was associated with a higher number of sleep complaints in old age. It was specifically emotional abuse — rather than physical abuse or emotional neglect — that was tied to trouble in getting a good night’s sleep.

“A negative early attachment continues to exert an influence on our well being decades later through an accumulation of stressful interpersonal experiences across our lives,” said Cecilia Y. M. Poon, MA, the study’s lead author. “The impact of abuse stays in the system. Emotional trauma may limit a person’s ability to fend for themselves emotionally and successfully navigate the social world”

The data was taken from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States. In 1995, approximately 3,500 adults responded to questions about their childhood. A decade later, they were asked follow-up questions about sleep, relationships, and emotional distress. Poon's study looked at the answers from those age 60 and above.

During the second round of interviews, the participants were asked how often within the previous 30 day they had trouble falling asleep, woke up during the night and had difficulty going back to sleep, woke up too early in the morning and were unable to get back to sleep, and felt unrested during the day no matter how many hours of sleep they had. Emotional abuse was assessed by asking participants how often their mother and father insulted or swore at them, sulked or refused to talk to them, stomped out of the room, did or said something to spite them, threatened to hit them, or smashed or knocked something in anger.

The same survey found that emotional abuse during childhood also was associated with poorer relationships in adulthood. Poon speculated that this lack of support, associated with stress, likely influences sleep quality.

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The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences is a refereed publication of The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,400+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society, and an educational branch, the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education.

Click here for a printable PDF version of this press release.

Mildred M. Seltzer Distinguished Service Recognition

Presented to C. Joanne Grabinski, PhD, Eastern Michigan University, and Mary Alice Wolf, PhD, Saint Joseph University.

This award honors colleagues who are near retirement or recently retired. Recipients are individuals who have been actively involved in AGHE through service on committees, as elected officers, and/or have provided leadership in one of AGHE’s grant-funded projects.

Administrative Leadership Award

Presented to Tammy M. Bray, PhD, Oregon State University

This award honors administrators on AGHE member campuses who have made exceptional efforts in support of gerontology or geriatrics education.

David A. Peterson Gerontology & Geriatrics Education Best Paper of the Volume Award

Presented to Nina M. Silverstein, PhD, University of Massachusetts Boston; Elizabeth Johns, MS, University of Massachusetts Boston; and Judith A. Griffin, MA, MS, University of Massachusetts Boston, for the article “Students Explore Livable Communities.” Honorable mention is given to Emily J. Robbins, MS, Miami University; Jennifer M. Kinney, PhD, Miami University; and Cary S. Kart, PhD, Miami University, for the article “Promoting Active Engagement in Health Research: Lessons Learned from an Undergraduate Gerontology Capstone Course.”

The purpose of this award is to recognize excellence in scholarship in academic gerontology in AGHE’s official journal, Gerontology & Geriatrics Education.

Graduate Student Paper Award

Presented to Deborah Gray, MBA, University of Massachusetts Boston, for the paper “Weight and Wealth: The Relationship between Obesity and Net Worth for Pre-Retirement Age Men and Women.”

This award acknowledges excellence in scholarly work conducted by an AGHE Annual Meeting student attendee.

Book Award for Best Children’s Literature on Aging

Presented to Caitlin Dale Nicholson and Leona Morinn-Nelson for “Niwechihaw/I help” in the primary reader (pre-K to 2nd grade) category, and Ann Grifalconi and Jerry Pickney for “Ain’t Nobody A Stranger to Me” in the elementary reader (3rd to 5th grade) category.

This award recognizes portrayals of meaningful aging in children’s literature.