MIT AgeLab researchers Lisa D'Ambrosio and Dana Ellis, together with The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence, conducted a study that examined how adults in their 40s, 50s, and 60s remain resilient in the face of multiple stressors and challenging life events.
In a series of focus groups in Boston, MA, and Dallas, TX, participants revealed their stressors and resilience mechanisms.
- Participants in their 40s were most likely to identify stressors surrounding the maintenance of work-life balance, or managing family and parenting.
- In their 50s, both men and women were most likely to mention stress related to caregiving for an older relative, and many also noted that marriage, separation, or divorce served as another source of stress. Work also served as a major stressor among men in the Boston group.
- Among women in their 60s, primary stressors included caregiving, work, and money. Among men in this age group, stressors revolved around money and financial issues, including finding work.
Participants described using all five of five possible categories of resiliency responses: self-efficacy, perseverance, internal locus of control, coping and family and friends. People typically said they relied on more than one type of strategy; no one relied on simply one source.
The study's strongest finding regarding age suggests that as people grow older, they may draw upon a broader set of response options.
Among all age groups, men and women were most likely to describe coping strategies as their means of remaining resilient, followed by mentions of family and friends as sources of support. Coping strategies mentioned included responses such as exercising regularly, taking time to do things for oneself, meditation, distracting oneself from a stressor by doing or focusing on something else, physically getting away, journaling or writing about one’s experiences, and humor.
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