Bonnie Kenaley, an associate professor for the School of Social Work, presented her research study, “The Influence of Humor and Spirituality on the Resiliency of Community-Dwelling Older Adults” at the Gerontological Society of America’s 2019 Annual Scientific Meeting last November in Austin, Texas.
Kenaley’s research explored the influences of humor and spirituality on resiliency for older adults, as they often face many challenges that require coping mechanisms to help remain positive. Kenaley, along with graduate student Nicole Todd, Zvi Gellis, Kim McLive-Reed from the University of Pennsylvania and Eunhae Kim from Texas State University, surveyed 156 older adults, all 60 years of age or older. The team asked participants to identify the coping mechanisms used to improve their resiliency.
Of the 156 people surveyed, a majority of participants indicated that they use humor to cheer themselves up when they feel depressed or need to cope with problems. Participants stated that they felt that having a humorous outlook on life prevented them from getting depressed. Self-enhancing humor and positive religious/spiritual coping significantly contributed to increasing resiliency in older adults.
These results suggest that social workers access and utilize interventions that promote these two internal resources in older adults.