Parental Holocaust Exposure, Related PTSD Symptoms and Subjective Aging across the Generations

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Objectives: Traumatic exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are related to less favorable perceptions of aging. The current study examined parental PTSD and perceptions of aging among old Holocaust survivor (HS) parents and their middle-Aged offspring. Method: Parents (mean age = 81.79) and their offspring (mean age = 55.41) reported PTSD symptoms, attitudes toward aging and subjective age. Offspring also rated how they perceive both their parents' aging and subjective age. Dyads were divided into three groups: HS with probable PTSD (n = 21 dyads), HS without probable PTSD (n = 65 dyads), and comparison parents without probable PTSD (n = 57 dyads). Results: Relative to parents and offspring from other groups, HS parents with probable PTSD and their offspring had both less favorable attitudes toward their own aging as well as reporting feeling older. Offspring of posttraumatic HS also held less favorable attitudes toward parents' aging and perceived their own parents as being older. Serial mediation models showed that the effect of parental PTSD on offspring's subjective aging was serially mediated by parental subjective aging and offspring's perception of parents' aging. Discussion: The study provides the first evidence that posttraumatic distress is related to less favorable perceptions of aging across generations in HS families. Possible mechanisms for such intergenerational effect and the implication for interventions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-41
Number of pages12
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


  • Attitudes toward aging
  • Intergenerational transmission
  • PTSD
  • Subjective age


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