Psychiatric Quarterly

, Volume 68, Issue 3, pp 189-219

First online:

Successful Coping, Adaptation and Resilience in the Elderly: An Interpretation of Epidemiologic Data

  • Jeffrey R. FosterAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, New York University Medical Center

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


The elderly are often thought to suffer inevitable declines in functional abilities due to normal aging and concomitant diseases (acute and chronic). This view may be true for many aspects of physical health. However, an abundance of evidence suggests that mental health diverges from physical health in that Coping, Adaptation and Resilience (CAR) functions are surprisingly well-preserved throughout most of the life span. The normal “anatomy” and “physiology” of the CAR construct is described. It's robust relationship with the abnormalities of DSM-IV geriatric mental disorders is illustrated. Opportunities for new approaches to treatment are noted. These insights from the elderly are applicable to all age groups.