Background: Resilience, the ability to adapt positively to adversity, may be an important factor in successful aging. However, the assessment and correlates of resilience in elderly individuals have not received adequate attention.
Method: A total of 1395 community-dwelling women over age 60 who were participants at the San Diego Clinical Center of the Women's Health Initiative completed the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC), along with other scales pertinent to successful cognitive aging. Internal consistency and predictors of the CD-RISC were examined, as well as the consistency of its factor structure with published reports.
Results: The mean age of the cohort was 73 (7.2) years and 14% were Hispanic, 76% were non-Hispanic white, and nearly all had completed a high school education (98%). The mean total score on the CD-RISC was 75.7 (sd=13.0). This scale showed high internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha=0.92). Exploratory factor analysis yielded four factors (somewhat different from those previously reported among younger adults) that reflected items involving: (1) personal control and goal orientation, (2) adaptation and tolerance for negative affect, (3) leadership and trust in instincts, and (4) spiritual coping. The strongest predictors of CD-RISC scores in this study were higher emotional well-being, optimism, self-rated successful aging, social engagement, and fewer cognitive complaints.
Conclusions: Our study suggests that the CD-RISC is an internally consistent scale for assessing resilience among older women, and that greater resilience as assessed by the CD-RISC related positively to key components of successful aging.