Fall 2018

PLUS211

Innovative Perspectives on Resilient Aging (55+)

Resilience—the capacity to respond to, adapt to and grow from loss, adversity or disruptive change—is at the heart of our psychological well-being, particularly as we age. Current research holds the promise of increased resilience in later life: the more we understand the nature of resilience and the conditions that create it, specific to our own lives, the more likely we are to savour this life stage with inspiration, courage and zest for life.

Reflecting on both current research and wisdom traditions, as well as engaging in discussion and self-reflective exploration, we will consider resilience from multiple perspectives. We’ll not only identify the elements in our own lives that may enhance resilience, but also appreciate more fully the innate human capacity for generating resilience at any age.

Note: Back by popular demand, from spring 2018.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

This course is available at the following time(s) and location(s):

Campus Session(s) Instructor(s) Cost Seats available  
Vancouver 6 Monica Franz $115.00 50 -

What will I learn?

Week 1: Responding to adversity 

We will consider the current findings of resilience research as it applies to what Jung referred to as "the afternoon of life," along with their implications, including how they dispel many of the common myths about aging. How do we support optimal resilience as we age?

Week 2: Becoming the person we are

Carl Jung mapped out the course of a human life as an elegant arc, from which the authentic self emerges, released from the shackles of the ego-driven provisional life. How we navigate this transition to our latter years, how we "individuate," is a key factor in resilience.

Week 3: And the meaning of life is

Clarifying our core values and beliefs is integral to mitigating a potential scourge of our latter years; despair in the face of suffering and mortality. We will explore what Victor Frankl identified as the potentially dynamic relationship between our philosophy of life and our capacity for generating resilience.

Week 4: How do I belong?

Connection is integral to resilience yet, for some, the experience of aging, isolation, reduced mobility and physical capacity, and diminishing social contact can be a serious challenge. How can we broaden our concept of connection in a way that promotes resilience even in the face of these challenges?

Week 5: Good grief as the process of resilience

Grief is a powerful force of nature that supports us in adapting to and recovering from loss and adverse change. We will explore the psychology of grief (and the many misconceptions about it) and its implications for developing resilience.

Week 6: Putting it all together

What is the relationship between the physical dimensions of aging (brain and heart health, sleep, nutrition and stress management) and resilience? Does physical well-being necessarily correlate to resilience? Or do other factors play a larger role?  

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

There is recommended reading for this course.

Lavretsky, H. Resilience and Aging: Research and practice. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014.

This book will be available from the SFU Bookstore or at your local or online bookstore.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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