Successful Aging Program

A couple senior asian talking while walking and exercising at a park

What is the Successful Aging Program?

The Successful Aging Program is dedicated to advancing knowledge about the cognitive and physiological changes that occur in aging.  Since 1989, hundreds of older adults have contributed their time and effort to helping scientists explore healthy brain aging.

Who can join the Successful Aging Program?

Healthy men and women age 65 and older who are English-speaking, willing to be followed across multiple years, and willing to consent to brain donation can join.

What are the requirements to participate?

  • We ask that you come in once a year to complete comprehensive physical, neurological, and neuropsychological evaluations.
  • You must have a “study partner” who knows you well (e.g., spouse, adult child, close friend) and can attend the appointments to answer questions about your mood and everyday functional abilities (e.g., meal preparation, performing household chores, handling finances).
  • We ask that you agree to donate your brain at time of death so scientists can investigate the microscopic brain changes taking place as we age. On rare occasions, this requirement may be waived for those with cultural and/or religious oppositions.
  • There is an increasing opportunity to perform biological studies of brain health through additional measures such as genetic testing, skin biopsies, neuroimaging, and lumbar puncture. Only persons willing to consider these additional research measures are currently being enrolled.

What can I expect when I come in for my appointment?

The comprehensive annual evaluation, which is performed by a team of highly qualified medical and research professionals, takes approximately 4 to 4.5 hours to complete and includes the following three components:

  • General physical exam that includes a review of your medical history and medications and taking vital signs (e.g., blood pressure, pulse rate, height, weight)
  • Neurological exam of your sensory and motor functioning, gait, balance, and coordination to detect any signs of stroke, metabolic disorders, or degenerative diseases
  • Cognitive or neuropsychological assessment of your recent memory and other mental abilities (e.g., orientation, attention, language, visual-spatial, problem solving, and reasoning skills)

What is my study partner doing during my appointment?

While you are completing the physical, neurological, and neuropsychological examinations, your study partner is interviewed about your mood, everyday living skills, and overall well-being. This interview takes approximately 45 to 60 minutes to complete, and once finished, your study partner is not required to stay for the remainder of your assessment.

Is there any cost to participate in this program?

There is no cost to you.

What if I no longer wish to participate?

Participation is voluntary and you can withdraw from the program at any time.

What are the benefits to participating in the Successful Aging Program?

  • Contributing to the advancement of medical science: Findings from your annual evaluations will help scientists to better understand the normal aging process and understand risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Opportunities to participate in additional research studies: Although not required, older adults being followed in the Successful Aging Program may participate in a variety of studies (e.g., brain imaging, surveys about exercise, and focus groups) being conducted by UCI-affiliated researchers.
  • Monitoring Your Health Status: Each year, after your evaluation, our clinical team will provide you with a detailed report that enables you to monitor your health from year-to-year.  Should we detect any change in your physical and/or cognitive functioning, we will notify you, attempt to determine the underlying cause, and recommend appropriate follow-up steps.

How do I sign up?

To enroll in the Successful Aging Program, please call (949) 824-3249.