1. ON TRAumatiC stress and ageing: a global networK (ON TRACK)

Project group

PI: Sjacko Sobczak PhD MD, Department of Neuropsychology and Psychopharmacology, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience; School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands, e-mail: Sjacko.sobczak@maastrichtuniversity.nl

We are looking for expert volunteers with expertise in trauma and ageing to join us. See below.



The global population is growing older and ageism takes place. Consequently, the number of people with dementia will also increase and is expected to double to 74.7 million by 2030 and more than triple by 2050. Several prospective studies have reported that the lifetime risks of dementia varied from 14.3% to 50% in different populations. The global costs of ageism and dementia are enormous and may be seen as a public health and social care priority worldwide.


Older adults and people with dementia may have a different symptom presentation of PTSD compared to adults. The prevalence of PTSD in these subgroups is estimated at respectively 3% and 4.7-7.8%. Possibly these are underestimations as older adults with PTSD may show a different and/ or blunted symptoms which may interfere with the clinical diagnostic process, in particular as cognitive dysfunctions are present.

The more as this last stage of life is in general a phase which is accompanied by loss experiences and feelings of impotence. All which may uncover traumatic memories and associated feelings and hence elicit (late-onset) PTSD.

Besides, PTSD has been associated with accelerated ageing and increased risk for dementia. But the long-term impact of traumatic stress on cognition and mental health in the ageing population and its determinants are insufficiently clear. Worldwide there are no collaborations of researchers who can advise clinical, social and health care policies.


Global collaborations between researchers in this area will strengthen and accelerate research on traumatic stress and its impact on ageing. An established network will aid in exchanging experience and knowledge. Consequently, efforts in this research field may be shared which will give a solid input to knowledge which is urgently needed in the current mondial ageing population. The ultimate goal is to improve prognoses for PTSD in older adults in general but also in those who are cognitive compromised such as in dementia. Proven and innovative prevention and treatment strategies can be evaluated in different settings in the care chain.


To improve global collaboration on this current topic, the Global Collaboration of Traumatic Stress is establishing a worldwide network of researchers in the field of traumatic stress, older adults and cognition.



The aim of ON TRACK network is to connect researchers worldwide who are working in the area of (mental) health care for older adults, care homes or who do research in the field of cognition (and its course) in relation to traumatic stress. Researchers who are active or interested in life-span research on the impact of traumatic stress are also invited. We want to share expertise, knowledge and experience and encourage future collaborations. Ultimately our aim of the network is to improve: i) knowledge on the impact of traumatic stress on ageing and neurodegeneration, ii) mental health prognosis for PTSD subjects over the whole life course.



We will set up the ON TRACK network between November 2021 and March 2022.



Would you like to participate the  ON TRACK network? Or do you have additional questions? Please contact: Sjacko Sobczak (Sjacko.sobczak@maastrichtuniversity.nl)

2. TRAuma and DEmentia (TRADE)



Project group

PI: Sjacko Sobczak PhD MD, Department of Neuropsychology and Psychopharmacology, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience; School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands, e-mail: Sjacko.sobczak@maastrichtuniversity.nl

Miranda Olff




Studies on the comorbidity of PTSD in dementia are sparse, probably, because of the lack of a valid diagnostic tool. As subjects with dementia are often unable to give a valid report of their life history, in particular a delayed-onset PTSD may be easily missed. It is estimated that the comorbidity of PTSD in dementia is between 4.7- 7.8%.

Mondial the number of people with dementia are estimated at about 35.6 million in 2010 which is about to double every 20 years till approximately 115.4 million in 2050. Based on the suggested comorbidity rate of PTSD, number of affected subjects is substantial and will increase steadily in the coming years.

PTSD and dementia are both known for their impact on the quality of life of those affected. In clinical practice, we see that the combination of both causes significant psychological suffering. And that while it is precisely in people with dementia that the experiences of these violent events often revive. People with dementia and PTSD may live in constant fear and apprehension, and may be trapped in the re-experience of heavy events which may be paired with screaming and aggression. As the diagnosis of PTSD may be easily missed these neuropsychiatric symptoms are often described as ‘unexplained’ or ‘problem’ behavior. Effective proven treatment advices are missing.

The forthcoming global ageing population and related spate of dementia will urge us to improve care for these people.



The TRADE-project proposes to improve knowledge and clinical care for subjects suffering from both dementia and PTSD. Aims of the project include:

  1. Develop a valid diagnostic tool to diagnose PTSD and its severity in dementia subjects.

  2. Investigate the comorbidity rate of PTSD in dementia subjects living in clinical settings and care homes.

  3. Investigate the aimed population with respect to: neuropsychiatric symptoms and related behavioral problems, frailty and physical stress parameters, quality of life and health care burden and epigenetic profiles.

  4. Investigate the effects on these parameters of EMDR-treatment.

  5. Providing information and evidence to inform the development of policy and services for care of subjects with dementia and PTSD.




Sobczak S, Olff M, Rutten BPF, Verhey F, Deckers K. (2021). Comorbidity rates of posttraumatic stress disorder in dementia. European Journal of Psychotraumatology. 12 (1): 1-10. DOI: 10.1080/20008198.2021.1883923

National Center for PTSD. (2019). PTSD and Aging. PTSD Research Quarterly, No. 4. Retrieved from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/publications/rq_docs/V30N4.pdf

Cukor, J., Wyka, K., Jayasinghe, N., & Difede, J. (2010). The nature and course of subthreshold PTSD. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 24(8), 918-923.

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Assessment of trauma and its consequences in old age