FACTORS THAT IMPROVE RESILIENCE IN OLDER ADULTS LIVING WITH HIV IN THE DEEP SOUTH

Having effective levels of resilience help older adults manage the challenges of having multiple chronic conditions (cardiac disease, osteoporosis, cancer etc.) plus HIV. This study attempts to show what factors might improve a person’s resiliency. Resilience or the ability to bounce back from challenges is useful for all older persons with HIV. This study reports what factors affect resilience, what factors cannot be easily changed, and more importantly, what factors make the biggest difference in resilience.

The authors studied 100 men and 53 women aged 50 years and older living with HIV in South Carolina.  These participants were asked questions about how they responded to stressful events – examples such as “adapting to change” and “dealing with whatever comes my way”. From these questions a resilience score was generated. The authors asked a number of additional relevant questions.  This study showed that the following factors contributed to higher levels of resilience: higher education levels, being currently employed, more years since acquiring HIV, and having sufficient social support.

The one factor that can be changed and which would improve a person’s resiliency is their social network. Improving one’s relationship with those who comprise social networks (i.e. family, friends, and community), would increase resiliency. The other factors such as not working, education level and years living with HIV cannot be changed. Resilience is an important asset. Anything that can be done to help increase and improve resiliency should be considered. Trainings that can improve resilience in older adults can be developed based on the findings of this study.

Brown, M. J. et al., (2020) Sociodemographic and psychosocial correlates of resilience among older adults living with HIV in the Deep South.  J of Health Psychology 1-10.