Time Magazine devoted this week's issue to topics faced by an aging populace in a series of subjects its editors refer to as "dispatches from the frontiers of longevity." A blond, doe-eye infant shares the cover with the headline: "This baby could live to be 142 years old." In the magazine’s brief essays, two Mailman School of Public Health faculty members and aging experts, Ursula Staudinger and Ruth Finkelstein, are cited.
Dr. Staudinger, Robert N. Butler Professor of Sociomedical Sciences and director of the Columbia Aging Center, is quoted in "Can Brain Games Keep My Mind Young?" about reading too deeply into brain-game performance. An internationally recognized lifespan psychologist, Staudinger has studied the beneficial effects of aerobic exercise on cognition. But when it comes to electronic brain games and their effect on memory training, she takes a more measured approach. "The fact that structural changes occur [in the brain] does not imply that in general this brain has become more capable," warns Staudinger. "It has become more capable of doing exactly the tasks it was practicing."
Dr. Finkelstein, associate director of the Aging Center, is an expert in aging policy in the School’s department of Health Policy and Management. As the leader of New York City’s efforts to make the city an age-friendly environment, Finkelstein is a champion of cities as a destination in which to grow old. In "Where is the Best Place to Be an Old Person?," she describes the benefits of urban environments for people as they age. "In addition to their social networks, people also have micro-relationships and connections – the people you’re used to seeing, the sidewalks you’re used to walking down, the shops you’re used to frequenting."