Healthy lifespan

Healthy Lifespan

How can we integrate biological, social, and psychological perspectives when investigating development over the lifespan?

Research focus

Three seismic demographic changes make the promotion of a healthy work/life course more important than ever. First, Western societies are ageing rapidly, which has manifold implications. For instance, there will be a much larger percentage of elderly people (including in the workforce), with their unique challenges and needs for health and well-being (e.g., loneliness in old age). This will undoubtedly change how the generations relate to each other.
Second, life expectancy is increasing, meaning that people die less often from acute illness and have to cope increasingly with chronic illnesses, the foundations of which are often laid at much younger ages. This implies that interventions to promote healthy lifestyles have to adopt a lifespan perspective, and start already in childhood (or even during pregnancy) and reach individuals through multiple channels (education, workplaces, society).
Third, the increasingly rapid technological transformations of society imply that existing knowledge will become more easily outdated, and a job for life might become a thing of the past. To accommodate this shift, promoting lifelong learning and employability is a key challenge, both in children and adolescents (preparing them with non-cognitive skills like creativity and willpower) and adults (helping them to adapt to changing skill demands).

Interdisciplinary approach

All these topics require an interdisciplinary approach that integrate biological, social, and psychological perspectives. Such integration will shed light on key scientific issues, like how the brain develops and ages, how complex educational and work-related skills are learned and retained, how individuals navigate and master key social roles and tasks, how healthy social relationships (including intergenerational relationships) are established and preserved, and how meaningful life outcomes, like psychological and physical health, eudemonic well-being and personal growth, can be promoted and protected even under difficult circumstances.

Research networks:

Cross-cutting theme coordinator:

dr. Yvonne Brehmer