Resilience of Community-Dwelling Older Persons

While geriatric research has traditionally focused on the diseases and disabilities of old age, recent attention has focused on maintaining well-being. Resilience - defined as the capacity to remain well, recover, or even thrive in the face of adversity - is a central component of well-being. The goal of this cross-sectional study was to assess resilience of community-dwelling older persons and to identify the demographic, clinical, function, and psychosocial factors associated with high resilience. Study data is from the Precipitating Events Project, a prospective cohort study of 754 community-dwelling persons over 70 who do not suffer from terminal illness or disability. Participants in the study answered open-ended questions that invited them to identify the most stressful events in the past five years of their lives. Researchers categorized these responses by type of event (death in the family, illness etc.), and rated the level of stress on a new scale from zero to ten. The results demonstrated that older persons living in communities have a wide range of resilience. In bivariate analyses, factors associated with high resilience included: male sex, living with others, high grip strength, independence in instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), having few depressive symptoms and having good to excellent self-rated health. Independence in IADLs, having few depressive symptoms and good to excellent self-rated health remained independently associated with high resilience in multivariate analysis. After controlling for the perceived stressfulness of the event, depressive symptoms and self-rated health remained associated with high resilience. The study concludes that there are certain functional and psychosocial factors associated with high resilience. Future research is needed to explore the relationship between resilience and future well-being.