Enhancing Resilience in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: A Rapid Review of the Evidence and Implications for Public Health Practitioners

Meghan Ambrens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Resilience is a valuable platform for strengthening individuals and
communities in the face of disaster. This review sought to evaluate the current literature
related to individual and community resilience in community-dwelling older adults
to understand the status of resilience in this population, identify gaps, and make
recommendations about effective interventions that promote improved individual and
community level capacity. Recognizing the concept of resilience is contested, the review
conceptualized resilience as a collective concept that is multi-level and interdependent
across those levels, cumulative, and contingent on context.
Methods: The rapid review located 29 relevant peer review journal articles and
industry reports related to research or evaluations of interventions aimed at increasing
resilience at either a personal or community level. The results of these papers were
thematically analyzed.
Results: This review found personal resilience relates to those personal capacities and
resources one has and uses to deal with individual stresses and change. We identified
several recurring themes within those studies focused on personal resilience, including:
(1) positive reframing and agency; (2) personal meaning and purpose; (3) acceptance and
belonging. At a community level, we identified the following themes influence collective
capacity and resources: (1) empowerment and shared decision making; (2) collective
agency; and (3) collective leadership and engagement.
Conclusions: The review highlighted the need to reframe how communities view
older adults and shift the narrative away from focusing on age-related deficits toward
acknowledging the economic and social contribution older adults make to the community
through activities such as volunteering and the sharing of knowledge of history, culture
and skills. Demonstrating the interdependence across levels, these activities illustrate
personal-level capacities promoting collective action and participation as important for
increasing community resilience. The review argues resilience is developed in everyday
circumstances, therefore active involvement within communities needs to be encouraged within community-dwelling older adults. Developing active involvement will not only
contribute to both personal and community level resilience but will enable communities
to prosper and flourish through adversity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10.3389/fpubh.2019.00014
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages15
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2019


  • resilience
  • community
  • adversity
  • ageing
  • volunteering
  • resources

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