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BLSA Goals and Objectives

The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA) has been active for over 50 years. It is one of the longest ongoing longitudinal studies of aging in the world.

The goal of the study is to answer the big question "What is aging?"

The scope of this question has evolved over the years. At its birth, the BLSA focused on the physical and cognitive changes associated with normal aging, free of disease. The study later began to address the interrelationship between disease and age-related changes, looking at their combined effect on physical and cognitive function. Today, the question also extends to exceptional aging, targeting rare individuals who go through most of their life, well into their eighties, with no health problems.

The BLSA continues to pursue the following objectives:

  • Describe longitudinal physical and cognitive changes that define aging.
  • Identify genetic, physical, behavioral, and environmental factors that affect the rate of change in these traits.
  • Understand the interrelationship between aging and chronic disease and other conditions, and their independent and joint impact on age-related decline.

Achieving its goal and objectives—the BLSA participants

The BLSA works toward meeting its goal and objectives with the help of its amazing and dedicated participants. Participants come to the BLSA every 1 to 4 years, depending on their age, and receive comprehensive health, cognitive, and functional evaluations that take nearly 3 days to complete.

Since its inception in 1958, over 3,100 BLSA participants have contributed important data on the aging process. Currently, over 1,300 individuals are actively followed in the BLSA.

Participating in the BLSA is a life-long commitment. In fact, a handful of BLSA’s dedicated participants have been in the study for over 50 years. One participant has even made 42 visits to the BLSA testing facility!