More Vulnerable? The Life Story Approach Highlights Older People's Potential for Strength during the Pandemic

Majse Lind, Susan Bluck, Dan P. McAdams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Objectives: Older adults have repeatedly been referred to as more physically vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic, however, is not only about becoming physically ill. It has many psychosocial aspects: people are exposed to myriad life challenges. The life story approach does not ignore physical status but also emphasizes psychosocial strengths. It highlights that older people are likely to have developed resilience through experiencing life challenges and living across history. Method: We used the narrative method to review research on three strengths: tendency toward life reflection, adaptive use of personal memory, and temporal focus encouraging generativity. Results: For each, we (a) present evidence that this strength manifests in the second half of life, and (b) identify how it may specifically be applied in dealing with the challenges of the pandemic. In considering their life stories, the picture that emerges is one of older adults as having the potential to show considerable psychosocial strength despite the adversities of the pandemic. Discussion: We conclude that during this period of sweeping change in the lives of individuals of all ages, our older citizens may act as valuable societal anchors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E45-E48
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021


  • Generativity
  • Life reflection
  • Life story
  • Memory function
  • Strengths

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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