Coping Adaptation and Mental Health Fall 2011

Social Gerontology: A Multidisciplinary Perspective (9th Edition)

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Coping, Adaptation, and Mental Health To help older adults to develop more effective ways to cope with stress, we need to understand how older adults cognitively appraise, personally interpret, and individually define the stressors of life.
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Stress Currently, stress may be viewed from an interactionist perspective as a dynamic state that involves the ongoing relationship between an organism and the environment. Hans Selye (1936) published The Stress of Life. He defined stress as an orchestrated set of bodily defenses against any form of noxious stimulus .
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Stress, Coping, and Adaptation The ability to manage stress successfully is a hallmark of positive functioning in adulthood. Most older adults are in good mental health and capable of managing life’s stresses although they may be more likely to be overwhelmed and even clinically depressed in special circumstances: e.g., the death of a spouse or in the caretaking role of a relative with Alzheimer’s Disease.
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Two Models of Stress The Life Events Model – The greater the stress produced by specific life events, the greater the likelihood that a person will experience physical health problems and difficulties in psychological adjustment. The Cognitive Model – This model emphasizes the importance of a person’s subjective perception of potentially stressful life events.
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The Life Events Model of Stress Key life events mandate change and adaptation among all individuals, young and old. The early work of Hans Selye linking stress to physical illness played an important role in focusing attention on the identification of environmental events that individuals find stressful and that heighten hormonal and neurochemical reactions that may trigger disease and illness.
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Holmes and Rahe: The Social Readjustment Rating Scale Psychologists began to compile an environmental inventory to identify those events that caused emotional stress. Holmes and Rahe believed that life events can be ranked by the magnitude of the stress that they produce. Their Social Readjustment Scale has been used as an index of the stress that specific life events produce. The greater the stress produced by specific life events, the greater the likelihood that a person will experience physical health problems.
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The Social Adjustment Rating Scale: Stress Values An event such as marriage is used as an anchor point and assigned a value of 50. Adults were asked how much readjustment would be required if a specific life event occurred in their lives. For example, would being fired from a job require more or less readjustment than marriage? The average score for an event was then divided by 10 to arrive at the stress value.
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Stress and Physical Illness Generally, a significant but modest relationship has been found between the degree of stress experienced by an individual (as measured by stress values) and physical illness. Many individuals, but not all, who have
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Coping Adaptation and Mental Health Fall 2011 - Coping,...

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