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.