According to Positive Psychology, “resilience is the ability to bounce back when encountering the challenges that are an inevitable part of life.” An interesting thing about resilience is that it applies to everyone. Whether you are an employee in a senior living community or a resident, we all need to find ways to be resilient. 

Resilience is a critical life skill for employees and the older senior adult population. As an employee, if you can fine-tune your resilience skills, you can model what it means to be resilient for older adults. Recently the CDC published a guide on recognizing stress at work and identifying ways to overcome adversity. Their #1 recommendation is to “connect with others.” Since the 1950s, we have known that isolation leads to loneliness and depression. While isolation can be detrimental to older adults’ health, it can also impact employees. The exciting thing about resilience is that it is a skill, and like any skill, with practice, resilience can be learned. As with other forms of learning, we need to be deliberate.

The University of Arizona Center on Aging published an online article titled “The Resilience in Aging.” The site is filled with helpful information, and a quick read will give you an excellent understanding of identifying and encouraging resiliency with your residents. “Despite losses and physical decline, older adults report feeling content. An individual’s ‘resilience thinking’ can be assessed by asking life questions and encouraging residents to socialize with other residents. Lifelong learning can play a large role in uncovering resilience by encouraging residents to reflect on their past life experiences and engage and interact with their peers.” 

Other ideas for promoting resiliency include:

  • Education & Information. Offer better brain health & wellness classes along with a series of lifelong learning classes about famous people who have overcome adversity, and encourage curiosity.
  • Find a new sense of purpose: encourage residents to find ways to make a difference in their community.
  • Accept. You may not be able to do everything you did before in the way that you did it, but resilient people discover a way to overcome their limitations and explore a new reality.
  • Focus on what you can control. Some things are just out of our control. Identify a few of those issues in your life and figure out how to improve things.
  • Build on strengths, not weaknesses. Seek to understand fully what is going on, including how you may have played a role in causing the adversity. 
  • Change something. Your diet or fitness routine may be simple things that can impact how you look at the world.
  • Spiritual. Also identified as core values, these are the beliefs that are important to each individual. The power of prayer, the support of your family or friends. Believe that you can make a difference in the future despite the constraints imposed by reality.
  • Be optimistic. Everyone has aches and pains; become a positive person with interesting things to talk about by connecting with others and attending lifelong learning and health and wellness sessions.