Resilience in Midlife: New Study from The Hartford & the MIT AgeLab

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During midlife, adults often experience the convergence of multiple life transitions and stressful events – from taking care of teenagers and aging parents, to health issues and planning for retirement, among others. The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence and the MIT AgeLab conducted a study that looked at transitions adults in their 40s, 50s and 60s experience and how they remain resilient. The study was comprised of focus groups, and a survey of adults ages 40-69, which included the Resilience in Midlife (RIM) scale*.

Resilience is the capacity to positively adjust to difficult life experience and is particularly essential in midlife when we may be adapting to major life changes.
Research Findings
The study found that:
  • The most resilient adults have a strong sense of self-efficacy or the belief that they are able to manage through difficult transitions.
  • Participating in entertainment activities and hobbies is the most common way that all adults in the study cope with stress. However, the most resilient adults are more likely to participate in physical activity than less resilient adults (70 percent versus 42 percent).
  • Social connections and support are also common among the most resilient people. Sixty percent of the most resilient adults talk to or spend time with friends as a way to cope with stress, compared with 35% of the less resilient individuals.
  • Ninety-four percent of the most resilient people reported that they are very or somewhat happy, compared with only 32 percent of the less resilient people in the survey.
  • Thirty-four percent of the most resilient people reported that they are not stressed at all, compared with 6 percent of the less resilient people in the survey.
  • The most common types of stress that people in midlife are currently experiencing are related to finances and expenses (53 percent), health of yourself or others (40 percent), and changes related to aging (34 percent).
  • Adults in their 60s reported higher levels of resilience, compared with people in their 40s and 50s.**
  • Building resilience over a lifetime is important. Carving out time to take care of yourself by being physically active and socially connected in the midst of life transitions is an important part of developing resilience.
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