Your Life, Starting Now

Longevity is not just about the elderly. Young people today are the first in human history who can — with reasonable certainty — anticipate very long lives. How can they best prepare? How can societies change so that young people today reach old age physically fit, mentally sharp and financially secure? What advice can older people give to those who are just beginning their journeys through lives that will be far longer than those of their ancestors?

In Fall, 2010, the Stanford Center on Longevity began helping Stanford undergraduates explore different aspects of longevity. Students choose a particular area of concentration, and the Center helps them connect with experts from academia, industry and government. Students also draw on their personal experiences and contacts. The students challenge their own preconceptions about growing old, get the true implications of an extended lifespan, and take us along for the ride through weekly blog postings.

Changes in life span and shifts in population demographics affect people’s lives at all ages. The implications are profound, and there is no single problem or solution. We encourage you to join these students on their journeys, adding your own thoughts and suggestions that contribute to our national conversation about long life.

Click on a link below to join the discussion.


Emma Makoba: Chronic Disease in the Developing World – “What I want to do in these next series of blogs is provide a more nuanced picture of an incredibly charged and complicated issue: how to increase the life expectancy of those in the Third World with health interventions addressing both chronic and infectious diseases.”  Visit blog

Tess Rothstein: Designing Our Lives – “One of the most valuable things I’ve learned is that many people live outside of America’s mainstream model of life. Instead of working forty-plus hours a week from their 20’s till their 60’s, and then landing in full-time retirement, these people follow some other path. The stereotype about the typical life-course is that adults are dissatisfied with how much they work and retirees are dissatisfied with what little they have to work on. ” Visit blog



Steven Crane: Aging in Community – “…as I look beyond Stanford into my young adult years and even well into old age, I ask myself, ‘What else is out there? What’s next?’ And therein lies my motivation for learning about aging in community.” Visit blog


FALL 2011

Leslie Johnson

Leslie Johnson: Ageism and Cultural Norms – I believe in the power of positive thinking, thus I am curious about the interaction between self-beliefs and the aging process. I am interested in exploring our society’s norms and beliefs to see how they might limit the elderly in their physical, mental, and social activities. Visit blog


Salina Truong: Financial Security – As a college senior who, in just 5 months time, is about to be “grown up” for the first time, the most pressing question on my mind is: “How am I going to afford it?! Visit blog


Stephen Henderson: Music and Memory – My passion for music and this understanding and love for my elders has fueled my undergraduate research in sacred ritual music, memory, and Alzheimer’s disease. Visit blog


Allison Lopez: Relationships and Mental Health – I believe that we can live with almost anything except relationships with others. I’d like to understand why these relationships have such strong impacts on health. Visit blog



Brandon Whale: Long Life – My focus in this class will be on the variety of ways people pursue a long lifespan. Currently, scientists are looking into the effectiveness of genetic predispositions, environmental factors, supplements, and diet in determining longevity. Visit blog

FALL 2010

Ariel James: Cognitive Aging – There is a pervasive belief that as we age, we begin to lose our mental capabilities, from remembering names of new acquaintances to solving complex mathematical problems. Yet, as life expectancies and retirement ages climb higher, demands on our mental capacities continue into old age. Visit blog

Nikki Yates: Mind, Body and Fitness – I found myself feeling concerned by the general lack of motivation to exercise and eat right among many Americans. The information exists and it’s out there, but why don’t more people utilize it? Visit blog