Stress, resilience, and coping strategies in a sample of community-dwelling older adults during COVID-19

Patrizia Vannini, Geoffroy P. Gagliardi, Madeline Kuppe, Michelle L. Dossett, Nancy J. Donovan, Jennifer R. Gatchel, Yakeel T. Quiroz, Pranitha Y. Premnath, Rebecca Amariglio, Reisa A. Sperling, Gad A. Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on perceived stress in older adults is critical to understanding how to best support elderly individuals navigating stressful situations, with the aim to lessen the impact of stressors on their brain health. Here, we collected measures on perceived stress, resilience, and behavioral coping strategies, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, in a cross-sectional sample of 141 community dwelling older adults (mean age = 74.4 ± 8.4, 59% females) who were part of two longitudinal observational studies in Massachusetts, U.S. Our results indicate that participants demonstrated moderate levels of stress related to COVID-19 and showed relatively high levels of resilience. Higher resilience was associated with greater use of adaptive coping behaviors and less use of maladaptive coping behaviors. The use of maladaptive coping strategies was associated with more stress. Moreover, hierarchical regression analyses revealed that resilience was the strongest unique predictor of stress, thus, largely accounting for the observed coping-outcome associations. Individual differences in resilience levels moderated the effects of two coping strategies (planning and self-blame) on stress. Specifically, planning was associated with increased levels of stress for people with low resilience. In contrast, high personal resilience attenuated the negative effect of self-blame on their stress levels. Taken together, our findings suggest that resilience is critical for coping with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Future approaches for augmenting resilience could prove to be important potential interventions to help support older adults navigating stressful situations as well as lessen adverse effects on neurocognitive and mental health in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-185
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Coping
  • COVID-19
  • Older adults
  • Resilience
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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