Aging and Positive Psychology: Cognitive, Personality, Health, Biological, & Clinical Issues

Course materials are available as articles, and audio with transcripts.

Since 1900, American life expectancy jumped from 47 to almost 79 years. The number of Americans 65 and older went from 3.1 million in 1900 to over 54 million in 2020 and is projected to reach 98.2 million in 2060. Advances in genetic engineering, tissue engineering, stem cell therapies, nanotechnology, hormone therapies, and other fields are likely to foster a longevity revolution in which lifespans become longer and people look and function younger at older ages. What can psychology and positive psychology teach us about how to live longer, healthier, and happier? This course uses articles and interviews with aging and anti-aging experts to consider cognitive and personality research and clinical issues. The focus is on what helps people age better and live longer as opposed to focusing on decline and pathology. The content is both relevant to you aging better and to helping clients age better and deal with the challenges of aging.

This intermediate course consists of 4 text articles and 8 audios interviews. The course materials consider demographic characteristics of older Americans, nursing homes and alternatives to nursing homes, diagnostic and counseling considerations with dementia, and quality of life issues. Because elder abuse is a complicated and sometimes subtle issue with serious legal and ethical issues, the course includes guidelines on identifying and reporting elder abuse.

Often the best way to get a feel for researchers and their research is to hear them. The course has eight audio interviews with aging and anti-aging experts. Each interview is about 40 minutes long. Separate PDF files give bios and notes for each of these interviews, and there is a text transcript for each of the eight audios. Additional resources and references are provided for further study, but they are not part of the course.


  • Aging and Positive Psychology
    • A Profile of Older Americans
    • Elder Abuse and How to Report Elder Abuse
    • Healthcare Directives, Living Wills, DNR, and Financial Power of Attorney
    • Nursing Home Quality Measures
    • The Dementias: Hope Through Research
  • Unique set of interviews (MP3s) with Anti-aging experts:
    • Beth Baker: “Greenhouse” alternatives to Nursing Homes
    • John Erickson: A Visionary Redefines Aging and Retirement
    • Alan Zelicoff, MD: Evidence-based Medicine and Common Harmful Medical Practices and Treatments
    • Jeff Johnson, Ph.D. & Paula Forman, Ph.D.: Baby Boomer Life Transitions
    • Robert Birch, Ph.D.: A Fulfilling Sex Life for Boomers and Seniors
    • Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D.: What Research Says About Being Happy
    • Leslie Martin, Ph.D.: The Longevity Project: What an 80-year Longitudinal Research Project Found About Lifestyle and Longevity
    • Marc Agronin, MD: Counseling Patients with Dementia

Educational Objectives

  • Cite demographic information on US seniors.
  • Identify and report elder abuse.
  • Identify critical measures CMS uses to evaluate the quality of nursing home services.
  • Describe cutting edge alternatives to nursing homes.
  • Describe evidence-based research about medical practices that often do more harm than good.
  • Discuss issues in Boomer transitions and how to guide Boomers and seniors in developing a fulfilling sex life.
  • Report on research on happiness and what increases happiness.
  • Identify what longitudinal research finds about lifestyles and longevity.
  • Distinguish between types of dementia.
  • Discuss how to counsel patients with dementia.