Psychological resilience in young and older adults

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2012 Mar;27(3):262-70. doi: 10.1002/gps.2712. Epub 2011 Apr 6.


Background: The goal of the current study was to investigate psychological resilience in the older adults (>64 years) compared with that of the young ones (<26 years).

Methods: Questionnaire measures of depression, hopelessness, general health and resilience were administered to the participants. The resilience measure comprised three sub-scales of social support, emotional regulation and problem solving.

Results: The older adults were the more resilient group especially with respect to emotional regulation ability and problem solving. The young ones had more resilience related to social support. Poor perceptions of general health and low energy levels predicted low levels of resilience regardless of age. Low hopelessness scores also predicted greater resilience in both groups. Experiencing higher levels of mental illness and physical dysfunction predicted high resilience scores especially for the social support resilience scale in the older adults. The negative effects of depression on resilience related to emotional regulation were countered by low hopelessness but only in the young adults.

Conclusions: These results highlight the importance of maintaining resilience-related coping skills in both young and older adults but indicate that different psychological processes underlie resilience across the lifespan.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Problem Solving
  • Regression Analysis
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom
  • Young Adult