When the BLSA began in 1958, the post-war baby boom was just becoming a phenomenon. With the oldest members of that baby boom cohort now approaching their 65th birthday, the founders of the BLSA can be credited with impeccable timing – they somehow knew that the need to understand how we grow older would become increasingly important to both individuals and society.
Over its 50 years, discoveries from the BLSA have helped to transform the way we conceptualize aging. Just like the people it studies, as the BLSA gets older, some things have changed and some remain the same. New research questions and study designs have emerged, but the BLSA remains true to its goal to distinguish normal aging from disease.
Today, increasing numbers of individuals are reaching extreme old age while maintaining good health and functional status. The BLSA, by focusing on these individuals, will carry on its original groundbreaking approach by asking — can we indeed directly affect the aging process? Understanding why some people are resistant to disease and functional decline and identifying ways to stay healthy are the challenges for the future. With the help of study participants, the BLSA will address these questions. The answers may set in motion new ways to live healthier and longer than ever before.