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How resilient are elderly people?

Maureen Q. Russell, MPH, RN
Geriatric Medicine

How resilient are (some) elders? Very. Others? Not so much.

Resilience is a quality that benefits us throughout life, but we are not all blessed with it. Elders who demonstrate this enviable ability to "bounce back" were likely able to do the same in younger days. They demonstrate this by maintaining strong relationships with others, and building new ones - especially with younger generations - throughout life. They have an uncanny knack of "taking the good with the bad," "going with the flow," "riding with the tide" that amazes the rest of us. When handed lemons - they make lemonaide. This doesn't mean they haven't had their fair share of challenges - lost loved ones, suffered decline in health or function. They are the ones that look you in the eye and say, "It hasn't killed me yet." For those of us who work with this age group, they are an inspiration.

George E. Valliant's Aging Well about the Harvard Study of Adult Development is a great place to learn more. It is available at Amazon.com or through your local library.

Anthony Cirillo
Geriatric Medicine
Joann Cancel, Program Director for the Volunteer Advocacy Program in the New Jersey Ombudsman's Office for the Institutionalized Elderly says, "I think the elderly are very resilient. They experienced so much - the depression, World War II, some residents were in concentration camps. Their past history was what made them strong and carried them through the hard times and the loneliness. Our parents and grandparents worked so hard and raised their families but we have such a hard time with it all, even with all the modern technology we have available to us. They didn't complain about everything they had to do; they just did it. They were poor but happier than I think people are today."
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.