Community Resilience throughout the Lifespan - The Potential Contribution of Healthy Elders Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • An increase in the exposure and predisposition of civilian populations to disasters has been recorded in the last decades. In major disasters, as demonstrated recently in Nepal (2015) and previously in Haiti (2010), external aid is vital, yet in the first hours after a disaster, communities must usually cope alone with the challenge of providing emergent lifesaving care. Communities therefore need to be prepared to handle emergency situations. Mapping the needs of the populations within their purview is a trying task for decision makers and community leaders. In this context, the elderly are traditionally treated as a susceptible population with special needs. The current study aimed to explore variations in the level of community resilience along the lifespan. The study was conducted in nine small to mid-size towns in Israel between August and November 2011 (N = 885). The Conjoint Community Resiliency Assessment Measure (CCRAM), a validated instrument for community resilience assessment, was used to examine the association between age and community resilience score. Statistical analysis included spline and logistic regression models that explored community resiliency over the lifespan in a way that allowed flexible modeling of the curve without prior constraints. This innovative statistical approach facilitated identification of the ages at which trend changes occurred. The study found a significant rise in community resiliency scores in the age groups of 61-75 years as compared with younger age bands, suggesting that older people in good health may contribute positively to building community resiliency for crisis. Rather than focusing on the growing medical needs and years of dependency associated with increased life expectancy and the resulting climb in the proportion of elders in the population, this paper proposes that active "young at heart" older people can be a valuable resource for their community.

publication date

  • January 1, 2016