Resilience in Rural Community-Dwelling Older Adults


  • The author acknowledges Paula F. Rosenbaum, PhD, for assistance with statistical analyses and editing of the manuscript. Thanks to Pam Stewart Fahs, PhD, RN, for guidance in development of this research project. For further information, contact: Margaret Wells, PhD, RN, NP, 750 East Adams St, Syracuse, NY 13210; e-mail


ABSTRACT: Context:Identifying ways to meet the health care needs of older adults is important because their numbers are increasing and they often have more health care issues. High resilience level may be one factor that helps older adults adjust to the hardships associated with aging. Rural community-dwelling older adults often face unique challenges such as limited access to health care resources. Purpose: To determine the resilience level of rural community-dwelling older adults and to determine if socio-demographic factors, social networks, and health status are associated with resilience. Methods: Data were collected from 106 registered voters, aged 65 years or over from a rural area in New York State using a cross- sectional design. The instruments used in the study include the Resiliency Scale, the SF-12v2, and the Lubben Social Network Scale-Revised. Findings: The mean resilience level of the sample was high. Resilience was not correlated with any of the socio-demographic factors which included gender, age, income, education, marital, and employment status. There was a weak positive correlation between social networks and resilience levels of rural older adults. Both physical and mental health status were positively correlated with resilience. In a regression model, mental health status was the strongest predictor of resilience levels. Conclusion: If low resilience levels are identified in rural community-dwelling older adults, interventions to build resilience may be helpful in promoting independence; however, further research is needed to determine this.