Another wrinkle in the debate about successful aging: the undervalued concept of resilience and the lived experience of dementia

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The concept of "successful aging" is a contested discourse in gerontology. Two conflicting paradigms dominate the discussion: a health promotion activity model, and a model critical of the concept of successful aging. However, this study takes a different perspective and proposes that perhaps we have been striving for the wrong goal. The true quest as we age should not be for successful aging, but our goal should be for resilience, an undervalued and not fully examined concept in aging. Developing resilience is possible for many older adults regardless of social and cultural backgrounds or physical and cognitive impairments, unlike successful aging. This article discusses the concept of resilience from a theoretical resilience framework, applies the framework to a dementia population by providing two in-depth case studies of resilience among people with Alzheimer's disease, and concludes by advocating to move the resilience paradigm more front and center into the gerontological debate on successful aging.