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How Resilient Are You?


“Moving to a new community at the age of sixty-three is the toughest thing I’ve ever done,” Deborah Stanton told the members of her evening class.

But now a year later, Deborah is on the executive of a local women’s group, a regular at the YMCA, and a member of various community groups.

“I like a challenge, so I didn’t expect the move to be so difficult,” recalls Deborah.

Suzy, another class member, knows the feeling well. Even after six years in her new community, she’s still struggling to make friends.

Why the difference?

Among other things, Deborah may be more resilient than Suzy.

Researchers have found resilience may be a particularly important factor during times of transition, when stresses tend to accumulate.

For Deborah, it was more than the move. There was also her husband’s retirement and the need to adapt to changes in lifestyle.

Resilience is frequently seen as the capacity to bounce back from adversity. Resilient people are thought to carry reserves of strength inside them–a sort of emotional contingency fund.

Recently some researchers have suggested that resilience is not a global quality. Rather, it can be compartmentalized into, for example, physical resiliency, emotional resiliency, or resiliency to change. Resilience in one area does not pre-suppose resilience in all areas.

Last January, the Kerby Centre at the University of Calgary enlisted seniors to research why some of them are more resilient than others when it comes to meeting the challenges of aging.

“Healthy aging is not necessarily tied to medical wellness,” says Dr. Penny Jennett, a professor in the Faculty of Medicine and the study’s lead investigator. “Someone who has a chronic disease or a disability might otherwise be very healthy and coping very well. We are finding that resilience seems to be tied to the kinds of relationships and support you have around you, the influence of your earlier upbringing, and perhaps even genetics,” she says.

To discover how resilient you are, and boost your bounce-back factor, try the Resilience Quiz at