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Karl A. Pillemer, Ph.D.
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Karl A. Pillemer, Ph.D is a professor of human development at Cornell University and professor of gerontology in medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College. An internationally renowned gerontologist, his research examines how people develop and change throughout their lives. He has authored five books and over 100 scientific publications, and speaks throughout the world on aging-related issues. In a groundbreaking research project, Dr. Pillemer decided to find out what older people know about life that the rest of us don't. This project led to the book: 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans (Penguin/Hudson Street Press, 2011). He followed this up with surveys of hundreds of long-married elders on their advice for lifelong fulfilling relationships. His second book shares their wisdom: 30 Lessons for Loving: Advice from the Wisest Americans on Love, Relationships, and Marriage (Penguin/Hudson Street Press, 2015). For more information , please visit the website:; , like The Legacy Project on Facebook, and follow author Karl Pillemer on Twitter.

Entries by Karl A. Pillemer, Ph.D.

You Can Go Home Again (And Stay Sane)

(0) Comments | Posted November 23, 2015 | 5:43 AM

It's the season when extended families -- who may not see much of one another during the year -- come together to celebrate the seasonal holidays. Thanksgiving is upon us, and if popular culture is to be believed, many parents and their adult children look forward to the holiday with...

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Vivere senza (grossi) rimpianti

(1) Comments | Posted November 12, 2015 | 8:30 AM

L'autunno sembra il momento più adatto per condividere alcuni consigli sui rimpianti. I poeti associano l'arrivo di questa stagione alle occasioni perdute, alle opportunità mancate, al passare del tempo prezioso.

Tennyson, osservando un paesaggio autunnale, scrisse:

Lacrime, vane lacrime ed arcane Dal sen d'una divina speranza,...
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Living A Life Without (Major) Regrets

(97) Comments | Posted November 10, 2015 | 5:04 AM

Autumn seems like an appropriate time to share some expert advice about regrets. Poets associate the coming of fall with lost chances, missed opportunities, and the passing of precious time. Tennyson looked at an autumn landscape and evocatively wrote:

Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean, Tears from...
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What Old People Know About Sex That You Don't

(55) Comments | Posted July 24, 2015 | 6:38 AM

I'd like to share a revelation with you. It took me months of pondering my interview data from hundreds of long-married elders, but I finally got it. It's about sex and older people -- not something younger folks think about a lot. However, when I have given talks to 20-...

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Children Who Break Your Heart: Here's Some Expert Advice

(49) Comments | Posted May 24, 2015 | 8:33 AM

In my studies of the lives of older Americans, I learned that almost nothing is as painful to them as estrangement from an adult child. When I wrote a blog post on this topic, it led to an extraordinary outpouring of interest that both surprised and...

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노인들이 말한다. '관계를 유지하기 위해 반드시 필요한 3가지 자세'

(0) Comments | Posted March 5, 2015 | 2:22 PM

밸런타인데이가 되면 남자들은 허둥지둥 애인에게 줄 선물을 찾으며 허둥대기 일쑤다. 그리고 대부분 실패한다. 적어도 미디어에서 남자를 그리는 방식을 보면 그렇다. 남자들에게 사랑은 항상 어렵다.

'사랑에 대한 30가지 교훈'이란 책을 쓰면서 50년이 넘게 부부생활을 영위해온 노인 남성들을 인터뷰 한 바 있다. 이 노인들은 온갖 삶의 문제와 여성에 대해 수많은 수수께끼를...

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What Older Men Want Young Men To Know About Love

(20) Comments | Posted March 1, 2015 | 7:52 AM

Valentine's Day has come and gone. And if popular culture is to be believed, Valentine's Day causes problems for men. TV shows, comic strips and jokes show men desperately trying to find the right gift for their partners -- and sometimes woefully missing the mark.

That got me thinking...

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3 Smart Moves for Choosing a Mate

(8) Comments | Posted January 13, 2015 | 10:40 AM

A few weeks ago, I wrote one of the most viewed posts of my blogging career -- long-married people's advice on what not to do in picking a mate. I shared three mistakes so obvious that the elders summed them up as "Don't be dumb." (I did get...

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Warnsignale beim Daten: Sei nicht dumm, wenn es um die Partnerwahl geht

(0) Comments | Posted December 8, 2014 | 8:07 PM

Ich habe lange über den Titel dieses Beitrags nachgedacht und mich gefragt, ob meine Wortwahl ein zu deutliches Rezept für die Partnerwahl darstellt. Aber als es darauf hinauslief, konnte ich keine passendere Alternative finden. Das ist der Grund:

Ich habe die letzten Jahre damit verbracht, über 700 ältere Leute...

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Dating Warning Signs: When Seeking A Partner, Don't Be Dumb

(206) Comments | Posted December 5, 2014 | 5:21 AM

I debated about the title of this post, wondering whether my wording was too blunt a prescription for choosing a partner. But when it came down to it, I couldn't find a more accurate alternative. Here's why.

I've spent the last few years interviewing over 700 older people about love,...

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The 3 Questions Everyone Should Ask Before Marriage

(6) Comments | Posted August 13, 2014 | 6:54 AM

How can you possibly decide, out of millions of possible candidates, that a particular individual is the right mate for a lifetime?

I could only think of one group to ask: people who made the choice and stayed happily married for 50, 60, 70 years and more. My interviews with...

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The Marriage Mistake Almost Everybody Makes

(58) Comments | Posted January 27, 2014 | 11:40 AM

Making a mistake in choosing one's partner is so common, it's embedded in legend, literature, and popular culture. To see what I mean, start with Greek tragedy, move to Macbeth, stop off at Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary, and wind up watching Lifetime TV just about any evening. As in...

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7 Questions We Need To Ask Every Older Person

(23) Comments | Posted November 10, 2013 | 5:41 AM

I'm proposing a new holiday. Or rather, a new use for an old holiday. I believe that we should make Thanksgiving the day when we celebrate elder wisdom by asking older people to tell us their advice for living. Here's why.

Occasionally, the question runs through younger people's minds...

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Pourquoi devrait-on avoir peur de mourir?

(2) Comments | Posted October 24, 2013 | 1:39 PM

En ce moment, on a l'impression d'être inondé par des livres évoquant la mort et disant comme c'est formidable. J'imagine que cela vient en partie du vieillissement des baby-boomers (je me rappelle de quelqu'un lançant malicieusement que nous saurions que c'est la fin du baby-boom quand on verrait apparaître des...

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Why Should Anyone Be Afraid Of Dying?

(20) Comments | Posted October 16, 2013 | 7:23 AM

We seem to be inundated now with books about death -- and about how great it is. I assume that this is part of the aging of the baby boomers (I remember someone quipping that we'd know the end of the baby boom had come when we started to see...

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'Don't Go To Bed Angry': Sound Marriage Advice Or Cliché?

(32) Comments | Posted August 19, 2013 | 6:44 AM

When is a piece of advice about marriage an empty cliché, and when is it profound -- and practical -- wisdom? In interviews with hundreds of long-married older people, one prescription for a happy marriage was offered by almost everyone.

So before I go any further, go out and find...

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The Most Surprising Regret Of The Very Old -- And How You Can Avoid It

(121) Comments | Posted April 4, 2013 | 7:04 AM

What do older people regret when they look back over their lives? I asked hundreds of the oldest Americans that question. I had expected big-ticket items: an affair, a shady business deal, addictions -- that kind of thing. I was therefore unprepared for the answer they often gave:

I wish...

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'Opposites Attract' Or 'Birds Of A Feather' -- What's Best For A Long Marriage?

(154) Comments | Posted January 31, 2013 | 6:10 AM

I've spent time over the past year talking with young people about their hopes for marriage. And the question that comes up more than any other is: "How do I know if the person is the right one for me?" Is there a way to tell if someone is likely...

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Learning How To Fight: Four Wise Tips For Couples

(61) Comments | Posted November 5, 2012 | 9:07 AM

What makes or breaks a marriage? To uncover the answer to that question, I have been interviewing the individuals I believe are the true experts: older people who have been married for decades. In hundreds of discussions with America's elders (described in my recent book), one answer is...

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The Four-Letter Word For Older Voters

(3) Comments | Posted October 1, 2012 | 9:14 AM

In this election season, political commentators are busily debating why different American subgroups vote the way they do. This year, they're paying increasing attention to older Americans, largely because the elderly are more likely to vote than young people.

I'd like to shed light on what concerns older...

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