Elderly people coping with the aftermath of war: Resilience versus vulnerability

Shaul Kimhi, Shira Hantman, Marina Goroshit, Yohanan Eshel, Leehu Zysberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: The present study compares coping of elderly people and two younger groups 1 year after a war. Coping was determined by stress symptoms and posttraumatic recovery and two levels of resiliency. Design and Setting: Thirty-six streets (covering most of the city streets) were sampled randomly from the map of Kiryat Shemona (a town next to the Lebanese border) about a year after the end of the Second Lebanon War. Participants: The sample constituted 870 adult residents of the town. Participants were divided into three age groups: elderly (age 65 years and older, N = 108), adults (age 46-64 years, N = 252) and young adults (age 20-45 years, N = 462). Measurements: 1) Stress symptoms measured by short version of Brief Symptom Inventory; 2) Individual resilience measured by Sense of Coherence Inventory; 3) Posttraumatic Recovery Inventory (PTR); and 4) Public Resilience Scale (included a scale for community and national resilience). Results: The results indicated 1) The elderly grouported significantly higher levels of stress symptoms and lower levels of PTR; 2) Females in the three age groups reported higher levels of stress symptoms and lower levels of PTR and individual resilience than males; 3) Individual and public resilience negatively predicted stress symptoms and positively predicted posttraumatic recovery across three age groups; and 4) Public resilience has a differential effect on stress symptoms in each of the three age groups but not on PTR. Conclusion: Results question the division of older people into a vulnerable or inoculated group, indicating that the participants responded concurrently in a more vulnerable and a more resilient manner. Older people were characterized by higher levels of postwar stress symptoms, as well as a higher sense of coherence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-401
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by grant from the UJA Federation of New York.


  • Age and gender
  • Individual and public resilience
  • Posttraumatic recovery,senior citizens
  • Senior resiliency
  • Senior vulnerability
  • Stress symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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