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J Gerontol. 1979 Nov;34(6):841-51.

Stress and adaptation in later life.


The effects of five major life events, and of three types of resources, on the physical and social-psychological adaptation of 375 participants in a longitudinal study were examined. As expected, medical events had the most impact on physical adaptation, but they had surprisingly little impact on social-psychological adaptation. Retirement had the most negative social-psychological effects, but had little effect on physical adaptation. The other three events had even less effects, although multiple events tended to cumulate in impact. Better physical resources helped only physical adaptation, and better psychological and social resources mainly helped satisfaction. It appears that most of these potential stressors have less serious long-term outcomes than the crisis orientation would suggest.

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