Weebles Wobble but They Don’t Fall Down

Frailty is not inevitable as we age, but it is more likely to occur as we grow older. People who have lived the longest likely have some degree of frailty but also have a high degree of resilience. Simply put, they have learned to adapt to adversity. In spite of losses from chronic illnesses, they have risen above the circumstance and recovered. They have maintained a positive attitude amidst stressors they cannot control. In this study, the authors see resilience as a positive characteristic and one clinicians should encourage in their patients: “Resilience thinking in older adults gives them the ability to recover from adversity, thrive with a sustained purpose, and grow in a world of turmoil, change, and chronic illness.”

Championing Resilience in Our Patients

The literature is clear. People who are resilient have a better outcome profile. This is beneficial to older adults who are dealing with some degree of frailty from chronic illnesses. As clinicians we can discuss this with our patients and suggest to them ways to generate resilience. Optimism and effective coping mechanisms are seen to be more important for the person with chronic health concerns. This is helped by personal connections, activity involvement, a healthy diet, and activity as tolerated. We can encourage our patients and the interdisciplinary team to plan care that increases the opportunity for these activities. 

Promoting Resilience in Our Front-Line Workers

Caregiving in this year of pandemic has tested the resilience of those on the front line. While we are encouraging clinicians to care plan for increased resilience in their patients, we must deal with this issue in the caregivers caring for this population of frail older adults. A recent article in Caring for the Ages underscores the need for supporting the front-line workers who have had to deal with a great deal of stress and loss during this pandemic. 

Just as clinicians are encouraged to support resilience in their patients  to improve outcomes and quality of life, so too the leadership of an organization can create a culture of resilience for all employees. Kindness, trust, and understanding of the staff’s stressors will help. This will set the stage for both patients and their caregivers to face stress with a healthier mindset from the support they receive. Like the Weebles toys of the 1970s, they too may wobble but not fall down.

At patientpattern.com we can help all professionals and bedside caregivers to understand the impact of frailty on the coping styles of their patients, and we always strive to develop approaches to care that make life easier for the patients and caregivers. These efforts also can help prevent hospitalizations and readmissions and promote patient-centered care that both improve outcomes and streamline costs.