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10 TED Talks That Will Change the Way You Think About Aging

Sarah Stevenson
By Sarah StevensonDecember 24, 2012
TED Talks on Aging

From frank talk about death and dying to inspirational advice on how to make the most of life, the speakers at TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) will make you think differently about getting older.

TED‘s innovative speakers have plenty to say on every topic under the sun, all with the ultimate goal of spreading ideas that will change lives. They’ve even addressed the idea of aging—not just from a scientific perspective, but also on the fundamental level of how we think about getting older. With that topic in mind, we’ve listed our ten favorite TED talks that, we hope, will also inspire you and your loved ones to think a bit differently about the process of aging.

1. Laura Carstensen: Older people are happier

Laura Carstensen’s research as a psychologist shows that, even with an ever-increasing lifespan, we do get happier as we age: “When we recognize that we don’t have all the time in the world, we see our priorities most clearly.” Watch video >

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2. Alanna Shaikh: How I’m preparing to get Alzheimer’s

Watching her father’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease, Alanna Shaikh decided to actively prepare herself for the possibility of becoming ill. “I’m changing what I do for fun, I’m working to build my physical strength, and—this is the hard one—I’m trying to become a better person.” Watch video >

3. Ramona Pierson: An unexpected place of healing

When Ramona Pierson was 22, she was in an accident and recovered in a nursing home. “If you think about all the skills and talent that are in this room, right now, that’s what a senior home has…[and] the one advantage that they have over most of you is wisdom.” Watch video >

4. Dan Buettner: How to live to be 100+

Dan Buettner shares some of the lifestyle strategies that the world’s longest-lived elders have in common. “We know that isolation kills. Fifteen years ago, the average American had three good friends. We’re down to one and a half right now.” Watch video >

5. Peter Saul: Let’s talk about dying

The conversation about end-of-life care is a critical one, and Dr. Peter Saul shares his suggestions for approaching that topic and improving how we die—explaining how we can “occupy death.” Watch video >

6. Kevin Stone: The bio-future of joint replacement

Arthritis is no longer a guaranteed source of pain and misery–at least, not at Kevin Stone’s clinic, where he works with lab-grown tissue at the cutting edge of biomedicine. “Cancer may kill you, but when you look at the numbers, arthritis ruins more lives.” Watch video >

7. Jane Fonda: Life’s third act

Actor, activist and fitness guru Jane Fonda explores how we can make the most of our golden years. “We’re still living with the old paradigm of age as an arch. That’s the old metaphor: You’re born, you peak at midlife and decline into decrepitude.” Watch video >

8. Philip Zimbardo: The psychology of time

Zimbardo—the psychologist behind the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment—suggests that reorienting our outlook on time can help us improve our lives. “At 76 years old, I am more energetic than ever, more productive, and I’m happier than I have ever been.” Watch video >

9. Randy Pausch: Really achieving your childhood dreams

Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch delivers a moving last lecture while dying of pancreatic cancer: “It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life.” Watch video >

10. Steve Jobs: How to live before you die

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple and Pixar, delivers a Stanford commencement speech that encourages us to embrace life’s opportunities—even when faced with setbacks. “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, if today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” Watch video >

If you have any suggestions for inspirational TED talks we might have missed, please leave them in the comments!

Sarah Stevenson
Sarah Stevenson

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