Research conducted during the pandemic points to pockets of older-adult resilience. A January National Poll on Healthy Aging reveals that among some 2,000 respondents ages 50 to 80, four out of five reported their mental health to be as good as, or better than, 20 years ago.
These adults are sometimes able to “put things in context of an entire life history” and draw on past resilience, says Lauren Gerlach, geriatric psychiatrist and assistant professor at the University of Michigan, who contributed to the report.
“That resilience and wisdom that comes with aging, of having gone through tough times in the past and being able to get through it … I think can help put people in a better position in the face of stressors,” says Dr. Gerlach. Since the survey was a snapshot in time from earlier this year, she stresses the importance of continued monitoring.
Beyond maintaining regular sleep and healthy lifestyles, says Dr. Gerlach, pursuing activities that are personally meaningful – like volunteering – can help support and improve older adults’ mental health.