Study shows that a focus on gratitude, a positive attitude toward aging and value-based activities increases resilience and decreases stress
The United States Census Bureau estimates that by 2060, nearly one in four Americans will be age 65 and older. As America turns gray, there are numerous stressors, like health issues, the loss of a spouse or loss of independence, that negatively impact the lives of older adults. Resilience improves the ability to cope with these stressors, but only one-third of older adults score high on resilience measures.
Residents at Belmont Village Senior Living in Cardiff by the Sea and Sabre Springs recently took part in a groundbreaking multi-site study by researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine in collaboration with Mather Institute that describes a method to enhance resilience and reduce subjective stress in residents in senior housing communities.
“Studies like this one are powerful because they address very real issues of aging head-on, in a way that not only offers insight to the problem itself, but also guides toward a solution,” said Patricia Will, Founder and CEO of Belmont Village Senior Living. “We will always leap at an opportunity to expand the knowledge base on aging and we’re already exploring ways that we can translate the UC San Diego findings into our resident programs.”
Published in the February 5, 2019 online issue of International Psychogeriatrics, the study reports that UC San Diego found an increase in resilience and, surprisingly, wisdom, along with a significant reduction in the level of daily stress experienced by seniors as a result of the innovative intervention.
Using an intervention program called Raise Your Resilience (RYR), the study addressed topics like gratitude and ageism and employed value-based activities emphasizing empathy, compassion and self-compassion.
For example, group members were asked to record one event each day that made them feel happy or grateful and one activity that made them feel proud. “Satisfaction with the intervention was quite high among the participants. Almost all of them completed their diary on most days, which was remarkable,” said Danielle Glorioso, LCSW, executive director of the Center for Healthy Aging at UC San Diego.
The study involved a one-month control period and a one-month intervention period. Participants were then followed for three months post-intervention. The study was conducted in five senior housing communities across three states – California, Illinois and Arizona. Eighty-nine participants with an average age of 85 were recruited for the study.
When compared to the control period, RYR participants had significantly lower stress scores and higher wisdom scores during the intervention period with significantly higher scores in resilience post-intervention. “Our results show that something can be done in a practical way to empower the seniors,” said senior author Dilip V. Jeste, MD, senior associate dean for the Center of Healthy Aging and Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine.
About Belmont Village Senior Living
Founded in 1997, Belmont Village is an integrated developer, owner and operator of high-end seniors housing with more than 4000 employees. Its communities are renowned for distinctive design, high standards of life safety, reputation for quality of care and leading edge, award-winning programs. Since its inception, the company has developed and operates 30 senior living communities in major metro areas across the country and in Mexico City. Belmont Village is certified as a Great Place to Work® and has been ranked as one of FORTUNE Magazine’s 50 Best Workplaces for Aging Services since 2018. Learn more about Belmont Village at www.belmontvillage.com and on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Full study: The DOI is https://www.doi.org/10.1017/S1041610219002096.
Co-authors include Emily B. H. Treichler, Ellen E. Lee, Tsung-Chin Wu, Xin M. Tu, and Rebecca Daly from UC San Diego School of Medicine, and Catherine O’Brien and Jennifer L. Smith from Mather Institute, Evanston, Illinois, USA.
This research was funded, in part, by the Mather Institute and by the National Institute of Mental Health T32 Geriatric Mental Health Program (grant MH019934 to DVJ [PI]), and an R01 grant (R01MH094151-01 to DVJ [PI]), and the Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging, UC San Diego.