Conservation of Resources, Stress, and Aging

Why Do Some Slide and Some Spring?
  • Stevan E. Hobfoll
  • Jennifer D. Wells
Part of the The Springer Series in Adult Development and Aging book series (SSAD)


Conceptions of later adulthood have often portrayed a picture of the frail elderly, spiraling toward loneliness and loss (Lerner & Gignac, 1992). Furthermore, later life has generally been conceptualized as separate from earlier adult life in some qualitative manner, such that once you were young then you became middle aged, and then one day you were old, the proverbial riddle of the Sphinx. This chapter suggests that rather than a distinct developmental phase, later life is influenced by the caravan of resources that the person has obtained, protected, or lost throughout earlier life. This caravan is shaped by the lifetime experiences of the individual, the context of the family, and the framework of society for older adults. Who among us looks back at our earlier life and says, “That was a different person?” Rather, we see ourselves as having continuity with that earlier self. Our change is incremental. Yet, at the same time, we must acknowledge that changes do occur, and that these cumulatively affect us. So too, at any age, illness and death profoundly affect us and those around us, and as these changes are more prevalent with age, the caravan may move faster in our later years.


Social Support Traumatic Stress Filial Piety Israeli Society Holocaust Survivor 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stevan E. Hobfoll
    • 1
  • Jennifer D. Wells
    • 1
  1. 1.Applied Psychology Center, Department of PsychologyKent State UniversityKentUSA

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