Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

Resilience, a psychological adaptive process and outcome, is the ability to return to normal functioning after a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster. Successful aging entails biological, psychological, and social factors. The Great Flood of 2016 in the greater Baton Rouge area caused catastrophic structural damage to thousands of homes and businesses. Some of these individuals had previously moved to the Baton Rouge area after receiving catastrophic damage during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In this study, I investigated the role that age group (younger, middle-aged, older) and disaster exposure group (control, single exposure, double exposure) had on post-disaster well-being. Specifically, the outcomes of resilience, physical health, and mental health were chosen to examine successful aging after disaster within a biopsychosocial framework. Additionally, I compared relationships among resilience and indicators of successful aging. Participants (n = 202) who ranged in age from 18-88 years represented three groups based upon disaster exposure. Results indicated that age group was positively associated with resilience and mental health scores, while negatively associated with physical health scores. For disaster exposure group, those with no structural damage reported significantly higher physical health than those who went through the 2016 flood and Katrina (double exposure group). However, for mental health, the double disaster group did not statistically differ from the control group, who scored significantly higher than those who only received structural damage during the 2016 flood. Lastly, a significant correlation was found for both resilience and mental health and resilience and physical health. These results indicate that resilience is an important component of successful aging after disaster. Limitations of the present research and potential directions for future research are discussed.

Committee Chair

Cherry, Katie

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