Ageing International

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 492–505

Stressful Life Events and Psychological Well-being in a Brazilian Sample of Older Persons: The Role of Resilience

  • Maria Clara Pinheiro de Paula Couto
  • Sílvia Helena Koller
  • Rosa Novo
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s12126-011-9123-2

Cite this article as:
de Paula Couto, M.C.P., Koller, S.H. & Novo, R. Ageing Int (2011) 36: 492. doi:10.1007/s12126-011-9123-2

Abstract

The study aimed to identify the most frequent stressful life events that older persons experience while identifying the most stressful ones. It also aimed to test the hypothesis that resilience moderates the impact of stressful events on older persons’ well-being. The sample included 111 participants, ranging from 56 to 85 years, living independently in the community. Participants answered a demographic questionnaire, the Elders Life Stress Inventory, the shortened Psychological Well-Being Scales, and the Resilience Scale. Stressful events were analyzed according to their frequency and intensity. A mean of five events were reported by participants regarding their experiences over the last year. The most frequent events were memory deterioration, deterioration in health/behavior of a family member, death of a friend/family member, decrease in recreational activities, and personal injury/illness. The most stressful events were divorce/marital separation, parent institutionalization, and child, spouse or parent death. A main effect of resilience was found, high resilience being associated with higher well-being. A main effect of stressful events was also found, high stress being associated with less well-being. However, the interaction between resilience and stressful events did not yield a significant result. Interpersonal variations regarding psychological well-being in response to stressful life events may reveal that older people manifest different degrees of resilience, which in turn could help to reduce the impact of stress. This is an important aspect for successful aging which requires further research in order to find out factors which may enhance resilience in adversity, to promote positive outcomes through the life span.

Keywords

Stressful life eventsResiliencePsychological well-beingOlder personsBrazil

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Clara Pinheiro de Paula Couto
    • 1
  • Sílvia Helena Koller
    • 1
  • Rosa Novo
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of PsychologyFederal University of Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil
  2. 2.Faculty of Psychology and Educational SciencesUniversity of LisbonLisbonPortugal