There are plenty of studies looking at early and late stages of life, but little is known about the middle phase. A unique study, Midlife in the United States, is broadly looking at health in middle age.
Unlike a typical health study, Midus looks at the impact of social factors on a person's well-being. Multiple related studies and research have spun off from initial Midus research and the scientific community is fascinated by all these connections.
"What makes Midus particularly valuable is that researchers can track the same person over a long period, comparing the older self with the younger self to see which capabilities are declining and which are improving," wrote Patricia Cohen in The New York Times. "This approach has opened a new peephole into the middle-age brain."
Cohen will join The Daily Circuit Friday to talk more about the study. Carol Ryff, principal investigator at University of Wisconsin-Madison, will also join the discussion.
The Midus study began in 1995 and tracked participants' health -- physical and mental -- and noted how physical health was impacted by social circumstances. The study is now recruiting 2,000 new participants to continue and expand the research.
If you’re in your 20’s or 30’s---what does middle age mean to you? And if you’re deep into your middle age-do you find that your assumptions about it are changing?
I'm a 36-year-old male and to me, middle age means more uncomfortable and invasive physical exams and check-ups.
Now that I'm in my late 50's, I'm looking at my parents in their early 80's as models of what is possible for me as I enter my middle age.
I turn 25 on Monday and I am going through what a lot of my friends call my quarter-life crisis. It is moving from childhood/college-life into the real world of being an adult. Middle age is about 20 years into having a real career until you retire.
@KerriMPR 23 y.o., hoping that by "middle age" my potential kids will be old enough for us to do some fun, meaningful travel in US & abroad.
I am 26 and have a 15 month old daughter. I will consider myself middle aged when my daughter graduates high school
Pew Center study on aging.
Divorce in your fiftiesMore people are doing it..
How important to middle age health is compliance with medical advice? What is the rate of compliance in middle age? I would imagine refusal to change unhealthy habits (openly or furtively) is common.
@Peter I also went through a quarter-life crisis when I turned 25.
Ed note: Mine hit at 28. I really disliked 28.
27 female - I see it as an investment as far as physical and mental health. Watching the baby boomers age we get to see the how our lifestyles of today might play out.
There a lot of amazing, healthy 40, 50 somethings that inspire me to stay disciplined.
As a 56 year old female I've been surprised by the societal attitudes towards those who are aging. I'm disappointed by the lack of interest in our experiences!
For me personally, I'm loving getting older and the many benefits it brings to my life. It's a chance to disengage from society's expectations and brings with it such freedom.
I have a friend that is 24 and he is going to be in the prime of his life after retirement. My guess is 65-80 will be his golden years.
After I retired, my memory actually improved. Less stress, was a factor I helping lower blood pressure too.
Guest Carol Ryff.
Now that my children are adults I am enjoying their company in a different way, and enjoying the renewed togetherness with my husband.
That being said, I feel I have to work harder to stay strong and flexible physically and have aging parents to take care of. That is a growing concern for me.
I am 22; I find "middle age" terrifying, because it seems synonymous with "settling down." So far I have lived my life based on adventures across the US and abroad, and middle age to me feels like a threat.
That said, so do the children that I eventually want to have.
I am a 37 year male and feel that I am ironing the fring kinks out and just starting life which can really start what I am set to do.
I'm 57 and, although my body isn't what it was, because my children are doing well and we have financial security, I don't think middle age is so bad. This is the least stressful my life has ever been.
My 54 yr old husband thinks that he is now into old age; I'm 48 and still don't think of myself in middle age - although my joints tell me differently!
Middle age isn't an age per se. It occurs when you look back to see how you've done so far and what you might like to change or keep the same going forward.
Read more: www.brainyquote.com"
What constitutes well being?
Ainsley: don't be terrified! Life is an adventure and you don't have to be traveling all the time to have adventures. Kids are simply a new adventure. And a wonderful one at that.
The hardest part about middle age for me is the loss of friends through moving, divorce, and death.
26 y/o female. To me, middle aged means:
I can't pinpoint the age, but I think it's a mindset and lifestyle. It has a lot to do with life experiences. I do think there is a certain level of stress and sleep-deprivation.
Currently, I work for the weekend, and for the 3-day paid holidays, and that elusive vacation I always keep planning in my head. I also think being middle aged means permanent sleep deprivation.
Judging by the comments both online and on the show people enter middle age when they began denying they are middle aged.
I've always said that aging is mandatory, maturing is optional. Enjoy the ride!
I wasn't really "living" until i was 40. My life has never been better, and I wouldn't trade my current life for the benefits of youth.
Turning 40 was anticlimatic but made me think of where I was at. I went back to school and started rock climbing.
Turning 50 was amazing. Finally graduated from college and got my certifications to be a rock climbing guide. I am having more fun and am more engaged and enjoying life more now than in my 20's.
Guest Patricia Cohen.
Once you have met someone who is over 100 years old and still has a quick wit, no age really seems "old". Aging is what you make it.
Ed Note: "Grandma" Ruth is my inspiration. She's a woman who volunteers at my kids' preschool/ She also teaches cooking classes, travels to NYC, plays bridge. Over 100.
I'm 58. Last summer I sold my house in St. Paul and started a PhD at Northwestern in Evanston. So far I haven't met a grad student within 20 years of me. I've always been one of the smartest kids in the room, but I have to say, this has been difficult. I think middle aged people think well, but differently.
I am 27, and I think that "Middle age" is a concept that was created by the Generation X, people born between the 50's and 70's. Life expectancy has been raising every year. In 50 years, life expectancy has increased for about 10 years. It is all about health and attitude.
I am 61, started running marathons at 55 and since that time have gone on adventure travels every other year including hiking the Inca Trail, Patagonia and Bhutan and kayaking up the Amazon. Mid-life? I'm living it:)
I'm a new mom at 44. I would never have expected to be starting a family so late in life when I was in my 20s. I'm enjoying every day. My parents are in their 70s and are still active and loving life.
In a premier bike race in France today, a guy who will turn 41 this year (Jens Voigt) took a 28-year-old right to the line and only lost by an inch. Forty is not old anymore, and I know my friends and I don't feel it.
Ed note: Jens Voigt! The big man! He's one of my favorite cyclists.
I just turned 60 and my number definition of middle age keeps increasing. I'm physically fit, have run competitively for over 40 years, and am looking forward to racing in my new age group. (I'm running a snowshoe race tomorrow.) My opinion: 60 is the new "middle age", dead is the new "old"!
At first, when I tuned in, I thought you were talking about "old age" rather than "middle age."
I am in my fifties and most of the comments that I am hearing seem to be about what might happen to individuals in the years beyond mid-life. Let's not mix-up these two different stages of life.
What socio-economic groups did you use for your research? I am curious to know whether the preception of middle age changes across socio-economical levels.
Middle age is preferable to the alternative.
I recommend square dancing or playing a musical instrument in a group for keeping the brain fit while enjoying the advantages of social interaction and touch.
I started dancing Argentine Tango 4 years ago at age 54! Now at 58 I'm in better shape, have better balance and strength than I had in my 40's. Middle age is a "state of mind." I travel abroad and will continue to do so into my 80's and 90's.
I'm only 34. The term "middle-aged" doesn't feel like the right descriptive for me yet, however in the last year I feel I have moved to some kind of "in the middle" status.
For me the change happened when my father and mother-in-law both had serious health issues develop, and I'm raising a three year old. The reality of caring for both parents and a child created a new stage in life for me and my husband.
It's about attitude!!!
I look forward to middle age - in my late 20s with a small child and in graduate school, middle age means I'll have an income rather than debt and my child will be more autonomous - can't wait!
@KerriMPR I'm 24. My grandparents are 87. If I can be half as active as they are when I'm that age, getting older doesn't seem all that bad.
I'm 68 yrs old widower waiting for my grandson 16 to wake up so we can go run a few miles.
Most of my friends are the age of my kids, & I have an active social life with them as well as my girl friend...am I middle age?
What is middle age? Patricia Cohen in the NYT.
I am a 64 year old man, with a new knee, and 13 year old twins.
I was fortunate in that I could retire 8 years ago from a career in education and be a stay-at-home dad. Since that time I have become an early childhood music educator, a volunteer in my children's schools, a reborn skier (I used to ski in my 20s.) I have to admit, helping with algebra 50 years later has been a challenge. New challenges help keep me active and growing. Sometimes the body is weak, but the mind loves the change and challenge. Middle age is an exciting time that can be extended for as long as we are willing to keep growing and learning.
I love this concept of "fall and recover"! Isn't that the beauty of passage of time for us? It's the wisdom we gain. Thanks, Bill, wise words!
(ed note: she talking about this interview with Bill T. Jones.
@Heidi I'm 57 and just finishing my PhD. I quit my job and went back to school full time @ GSU in Atlanta. I was definitely the oldest in all my classes, though we had a handful of people 40+.
This has not been easy, but it is one of the best things I have ever done. My one piece of advice is to embrace your unique situation. People may predict you won't be able to do some things. Listen to them, and then chart your own path. E.g., I was told I would never publish or find a tenure track teaching position. I did both - while still taking time out from time to time for family and grandchildren. Best wishes for your studies.
I’m in my 50’s and close to the end of my child-rearing years. I gave up my first career love for one that supported my family. After being ‘downsized’ from a long professional career, I am lucky to have a second chance to do what I love best.
I am often surprised to hear others, even friends, say: “you know, there really is no good career opportunity for you. Your best bet is to find a hobby or volunteer work and prepare for retirement.” What a bleak and sadly self-limiting view! I have an advanced degree, a wealth of professional experience, and look forward to decades of good work to come. It’s exciting to be able to turn the page and go on to something new.