What is Geriatric Resilience?

This trait boosts healthy aging

In aging, as in life in general, the benefits of resilience and flexibility are credited as personality attributes which help us remain healthy and optimistic.  But what exactly is resilience in older adults?

Resilience is often defined as the ability to cope when life gets difficult.  In the context of aging, staying optimistic and flexible might be tougher when facing age-related illness or physical problems which limit mobility and independence.


Still, studies such as a 2013 paper published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that adults with a higher score on a scale used to measure resilience rated themselves as more successful agers, despite worsening physical and cognitive (mental) functioning.

The authors, drawing on results of the Successful AGing Evaluation (SAGE) study of more than 1,000 older adults in the San Diego area, conclude that promoting resilience and helping people reduce levels of depression might have as great an effect on successful aging as efforts to reduce physical disability.

Research has shown that conscientiousness people who stay connected, are involved in activities like volunteering, and have strong overarching goals or purpose in their life tend to live healthier lifestyles and live longer.


Jeste, DV, Savla GN, Thompson, WK, Vahia, IV, Glorioso, DK, Martin AS, Palmer, BW, Rock D, Golshan S, Kraemer, HC, and Depp, CA.  "Association between older age and more successful aging: critical role of resilience and depression."  Am J Psychiatry  2013 Feb;170(2):188-96. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2012.12030386.

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