Salutogenesis -- Latin for "origin of health" -- is an important concept in the study of healthy aging. So often, issues of aging focus on fighting disease. Salutogenesis redirects the discussion to what supports health and well-being.
Aaron Antonovsky, a medical sociologist who studied the narratives of Holocaust survivors, established the salutogenesis theory. He explored the factors that kept people -- especially those in difficult circumstances -- healthy.
Antonovsky reasoned that a person's ability to successfully weather life's bumps and bruises -- or worse -- depended on two key factors:
- Having a sense of coherence -- being able to make sense of your life -- that helps you use resources to manage stresses.
- Having resources that help you understand and structure your life. These resources may be tangible, like money and housing. But they also include factors such as life experience, intelligence, social support, and traditions.
- Life has a certain predictability. It can be understood.
- You possess sufficient resources to manage personal challenges.
- Because your life makes sense and has meaning, it's worth your energy to address those challenges.
Life lived in the present moment -- bringing a mindful approach to all aspects of your life -- can be very helpful in navigating through the storm of a sudden health crisis or in coming to terms and living well with a chronic condition.Antonovsky suggested that older adults -- drawing on previous experiences managing stressful situations -- possess greater capacity to make sense of the world.
Preview of Coming Attractions: My Salutogenesis Factors
I wanted to begin 2014 with a series of blog updates on several of my major health issues.
"Salutogenesis" offers an interesting framework to do just that.