The Struggle with Anxiety and Depression among the Elderly: Predicting Elderly Behavior in Crisis and Conflict Situations – The Case of Operation Protective Edge

Avi Bitzur

Abstract


Existing theories cast the elderly as individuals likely to crumble under pressure, suggesting that crisis situations may exacerbate underlying conditions, such as depression.

The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians breeds numerous stress situations, which are bound to affect the lives of the elderly population on both sides. This inspired the author to examine whether the elderly population in Israel does, in fact, behave according to existing theories.

A prominent example of a crisis situation was the 2014 conflict, which triggered a crisis in Israeli communities that found themselves under the threat of direct rocket fire. The situation lent itself to the assumption that there would be a spike in depression and anxiety among the area's residents, especially the elderly, which would translate into "mass migration" to safer areas.

This study sought to substantiate or refute the "helplessness" of elderly people in crisis situations. It was based on a qualitative analysis of questionnaires answered by Holocaust survivors, former Soviet Union immigrants, and long-time residents of the Gaza vicinity communities, shortly after the conflict.

The study found little to no evidence of depression or anxiety among elderly Israelis, proving their resilience in the reviewed crisis.

While the rationale varied among participants, a clear sentiment came through, spelling devotion among the border communities' residents, defiance among immigrants from the former USSR, and a combination of both among Holocaust survivors.

The study indicated the elderly tend to be mentally tougher than younger generations, proving their resilience by weathering multiple threats. To conclude: Senior citizens can be used to bolster the home front's resilience; depression and anxiety experienced by the elderly in crisis situations can be alleviated by providing them with information about the nature of the threat; and it is best to form permanent resilience centers in threatened areas.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11114/ijsss.v5i2.2013

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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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