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Review
. 2018 Aug;2(8):551-558.
doi: 10.1038/s41562-018-0395-3. Epub 2018 Jul 30.

Development of Reserves Over the Life Course and Onset of Vulnerability in Later Life

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Review

Development of Reserves Over the Life Course and Onset of Vulnerability in Later Life

Stéphane Cullati et al. Nat Hum Behav. .

Abstract

This Review develops a theoretical framework for the development and onset of vulnerability in later life based on the concept of reserves. We stress the advantages of using the concept of reserves in interdisciplinary life-course studies, compared with related concepts such as resources and capital. We enrich the definition of vulnerability as a lack of reserves and a reduced capacity of an individual to restore reserves. Two dimensions of reserves, originating from lifespan psychology and gerontology, are of particular importance: their constitution and sustainability by behaviours and interaction with the environment (the 'use it or lose it' paradigm) and the presence of thresholds, below which functioning becomes highly challenging. This heuristic approach reveals the potential for a conceptualization of reserves and is exemplified in an empirical illustration. Further interdisciplinary research based on the concept is needed.

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