Building Better Health Through Resilience

by | Oct 8, 2021

COVID-19 has many of us rethinking what it means to be “well.”

For more than a year and a half, the world has been focused on the development of a safe vaccine against the illness. In the meantime, many patients were forced to forego preventative care during the pandemic, choosing the safety of social distancing over needed screenings and appointments with their physician and other specialists.

But as we begin our slow ascent from the pandemic’s depths, one thing has become clear – taking care of yourself during the time of COVID isn’t just about getting vaccinated and wearing your mask 1. Routine health maintenance is just as important as ever before. And during times of adversity, psychological resilience supported by preventative care may be the most important determinant of how we weather major disruptions to our daily lives.

The resilience that helps us power through stressful situations is closely linked to regular preventative care. Learn more below about how you can help your skilled nursing facility residents prepare for future challenges by getting their health maintenance routine back on track.

What is Resilience?

Resilience is one’s ability to adapt in a positive manner to life tasks while experiencing stress or living through adverse situations 2.

There are four recognized phases of resilience 3:

  • Preparing for a potential or expected disruption
  • Absorbing the disruption
  • Recovery from the disruption, and
  • Adaptation to the new post-disruption reality

You may hear the concept of “resilience” in relation to communities that have gone through a catastrophic event, such as a natural disaster. Consider a hurricane approaching a coastal town – residents prepare for the upcoming disruption in their lives by boarding up windows, stocking excess food and water supplies, or buying a generator. When the hurricane hits, the community hunkers down as best possible to absorb the storm’s blow. After the storm, recovery efforts begin in earnest, clearing debris from city streets, providing shelter for those who need it, and beginning the rebuilding process. After some time, the community resumes a normal – albeit different – lifestyle. Some businesses may remain closed; some residents may move away. But the community adapts to its new reality and moves forward.

Now consider resilience from the perspective of your aging skilled nursing facility resident. Perhaps the disruption to his or her life is more personal, like a decreased ability to live independently because he or she is no longer physically or cognitively able to conduct certain activities of daily living. That is likely a catastrophic “disaster” for your resident – but with psychological resilience, he or she will be better able to adapt to this new reality in as positive a manner as possible. 

Resilience isn’t necessarily a skill we’re all born with – but it can be built 4. And you can assist your residents by helping them prepare for disruptions and working with them to manage and recover from them in a way that helps them stay focused on moving forward.

The Connection Between Preventative Care and Psychological Resilience

Researchers who’ve studied resilience in older adults have identified mental, social, and physical factors that are characteristic of high levels of resilience in older adults – many of which can be improved through regular access to critical preventative care.

For example, seniors in good health who are physically independent and mobile tend to be more resilient 5, so you can help your residents build resilience by ensuring they eat a nutritious diet, have access to exercise opportunities, and most importantly, get regular preventative care and health screenings. Regular vision screenings can identify serious health conditions, like diabetes 6, high blood pressure 7, high cholesterol and vitamin deficiencies 8, and reduce your residents’ risk of falling. Getting routine dental checkups can prevent or reduce the impact of systemic health conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease 9. Routine preventative care provided by trained specialists can help you keep your residents healthier – and more resilient – so they can tackle any future challenges.

Additionally, seniors who are happy, optimistic, and who feel good about their emotional well-being are more likely to be resilient 10 – and you can protect your residents’ mental health with the help of regular preventative care.

Declining vision often keeps older adults from engaging in hobbies they enjoy, and seniors with vision impairment are more likely to report experiencing feelings of social isolation. And hearing loss can not only cause your residents to experience social isolation – but it may also increase their risk of dementia 11. Head off any future impairments – and treat existing ones – with the help of a trained specialist who can conduct a comprehensive exam and develop a plan to mitigate any negative impacts so your residents can live fuller, richer lives.


1 https://news.virginia.edu/content/pandemic-lesson-older-adults-must-make-preventive-care-top-priority

2 https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/resilience-and-healthy-aging

3 https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/resilience-and-healthy-aging

4 https://www.apa.org/research/action/speaking-of-psychology/human-resilience-covid-19

5 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0197457216000689#bib1

6 https://health.usnews.com/best-nursing-homes/articles/eye-exams-in-nursing-homes

7 https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/health-threats-from-high-blood-pressure/how-high-blood-pressure-can-lead-to-vision-loss

8 https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/20-ways-aging-changes-your-eyes

9 https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/poor-oral-health-linked-to-muscle-loss-and-diabetes#Annual-health-examination

10 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0197457216000689#bib1

11 https://www.audiology.org/sites/default/files/publications/resources/Cognitive%20Decline%201.9.18.doc

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