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      Successful Aging in Individuals From Less Advantaged, Marginalized, and Stigmatized Backgrounds


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          Health and well-being in later life are heavily influenced by behaviors across the life course, which in turn are influenced by a variety of wider contextual, social, economic, and organizational factors. There is considerable potential for inequalities in health-promoting behaviors and health outcomes, arising from poverty, social, and environmental factors. This suggests that individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds and circumstances may have more exposure to (chronic) stressors, coupled with reduced access to resources, and increased susceptibility to risk factors for ill-health and mental disorders in later life. This drastically decreases the likelihood for successful aging in individuals from less advantaged backgrounds. Nevertheless, despite these adverse circumstances, some high-risk, disadvantaged individuals have been shown to achieve and maintain good health and well-being into later life.


          This scientific update provides an overview of recently published research with samples that, against expectations, demonstrate successful aging.


          Favorable personality traits, cognitive strategies, and a high-level of intrinsic motivation, paired with a supportive social environment, have been found to build a prosperous basis for successful aging and positive health outcomes in later life for individuals living in aversive environmental circumstances.


          For clinical psychologists, the movement towards the investigation of underlying mechanisms of successful aging from a psychological perspective, particularly in disadvantaged individuals, may be a critical step towards understanding the vast heterogeneity in aging.


          • Successful aging is possible in disadvantaged individuals.

          • Psychological and social resilience resources may compensate for the impact of disadvantage.

          • The application of multi-level resilience models can aid future research on successful aging.

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          Most cited references39

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          Exposing some important barriers to health care access in the rural USA

          To review research published before and after the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010) examining barriers in seeking or accessing health care in rural populations in the USA.
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            Resilience as a dynamic concept.

            The concept of resilience has as its starting point the recognition that there is huge heterogeneity in people's responses to all manner of environmental adversities. Resilience is an inference based on evidence that some individuals have a better outcome than others who have experienced a comparable level of adversity; moreover, the negative experience may have either a sensitizing effect or a strengthening "steeling" effect in relation to the response to later stress or adversity. After noting the crucial importance of first testing for the environmental mediation of risk through "natural experiments," findings are reviewed on "steeling effects" in animal models and humans. Gene-environment interaction findings are considered, and it is noted that there is some evidence that the genetic influences concerns responsivity to all environments and not just bad ones. Life course effects are reviewed in relation to evidence on turning point effects associated with experiences that increase opportunities and enhance coping. Attention is drawn to both research implications and substantive findings as features that foster resilience.
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              The social ecology of resilience: addressing contextual and cultural ambiguity of a nascent construct.

              More than two decades after E. E. Werner and R. S. Smith (1982), N. Garmezy (1983), and M. Rutter (1987) published their research on protective mechanisms and processes that are most likely to foster resilience, ambiguity continues regarding how to define and operationalize positive development under adversity. This article argues that, because resilience occurs even when risk factors are plentiful, greater emphasis needs to be placed on the role social and physical ecologies play in positive developmental outcomes when individuals encounter significant amounts of stress. Four principles are presented as the basis for an ecological interpretation of the resilience construct: decentrality, complexity, atypicality, and cultural relativity. These 4 principles, and the research upon which they are based, inform a definition of resilience that emphasizes the environmental antecedents of positive growth. This framework can guide future theory development, research, and the design of interventions that promote well-being among populations who experience environments that inhibit resilience-promoting processes. © 2011 American Orthopsychiatric Association.

                Author and article information

                Clin Psychol Eur
                Clinical Psychology in Europe
                Clin. Psychol. Eur.
                20 September 2019
                : 1
                : 3
                : 32578
                [a ]Psychopathology and Clinical Intervention, Institute of Psychology, University of Zurich , Zurich, Switzerland
                [b ]University Research Priority Program “Dynamics of Healthy Aging”, University of Zurich , Zurich, Switzerland
                [3]Philipps-University of Marburg, Marburg, Germany
                Author notes
                [* ]Department of Psychology, University of Zurich, Binzmühlestrasse 14/17, 8050 Zurich, Switzerland. Tel.: +41 635 73 06. m.thoma@ 123456psychologie.uzh.ch

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) 4.0 License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 20 December 2018
                : 27 March 2019
                Self URI (journal-page): https://journals.psychopen.eu/
                Scientific Update and Overview

                disadvantaged backgrounds,LGBT,marginalization and stigmatization,disparities in racial and ethnic minorities,successful aging


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