UC San Diego Center for Healthy Aging Awarded a Grant to Study Resilience

BY JULIE AVANZINO

Why do some older adults bounce back from adversity better than others—and can that ability be enhanced?

The UC San Diego Center for Healthy Aging has been awarded a grant from the Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging to fund a one-year study on resilience and well-being in older adults.

Resilience can be thought of as adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, or significant sources of stress. High resilience has been shown to be a significant determinant of well-being, and is associated with lower levels of depression, anxiety, and perceived stress, as well as greater happiness, better physical health and quality of life, increased longevity, and positive self-perceptions of aging.

The study will test the effectiveness of a positive psychological intervention to enhance older adults’ resilience and well-being. This group intervention will focus on positive perceptions of aging and positive activities. We will be looking at whether focusing on successful aging and positive self-perceptions of aging have anything to do with increases in resilience and well-being.

This project is important because there are multiple potential stressors that come with aging, including physical and cognitive disability, bereavement, loss of independence, and financial stressors. While, unfortunately, these stressors often cannot be avoided, the promotion of resilience could potentially minimize the impact that stressors have on overall health and longevity.

The number of published studies on interventions designed to increase resilience in older adults is very limited, so this will be pioneering research on resilience and aging.

The study will involve close collaboration between the Center for Healthy Aging and the Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging. Staffed by nationally recognized researchers, the institute is an award-winning resource for research and information about wellness, aging, trends in senior living, and innovations in successful-aging service. Whether conducting new research or interpreting the latest studies for professionals who serve older adults, the institute is dedicated to supporting ways for older adults to age well.