School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)


Patricia Vann


resilience, coping, older adulthood, relocation, strengths, resources, interpretative phenomenological analysis, resilience portfolio




Resilience, the process and outcome of successful adaptation to a stressor, is important to maintain wellbeing through stressors such as relocation. Relocation is a common experience in late adulthood which can cause significant stress. The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experience of resilience and its relationship to strengths and resources following relocation in older adulthood. The research questions regarded participants’ description of experiencing resilience after relocation and strengths and resources that contributed to that experience. Data collection consisted of semi-structured interviews with a criterion sample of six adults aged 65 and older who had relocated within the last three years. The collected data was analyzed using interpretive phenomenological analysis, and five group experiential themes emerged. One of the key findings of this study was that the process of resilience (successful adjustment) through relocation in older adulthood takes time and that feeling safe and at home in the new house were signs that the outcome of successful adjustment had been achieved. Further, analysis revealed a heavy emphasis on positive social connections supporting resilience. Several strengths were found to support resilience as well, including a positive focus, spirituality and faith, various personality traits, and hobbies. This study extended the current body of knowledge on resilience by exploring an understudied population, older adults, and by examining the phenomenon of resilience in relocation to independent living situations, an understudied context. Findings from this study contribute to empirical knowledge regarding resilience and could inform supportive interventions and self-help knowledge for older adults facing relocation.

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