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NPR airs "Stuck in the Middle" - In-Depth Look at Middle Age Issues

In a series for NPR's National Desk, author and journalist Barbara Bradley Hagerty looks at middle age -- what happens to us when we hit age 50 or so and, more importantly, what we can do about it.

The demands of children and ailing parents, mortgages and college tuition, and unrelenting responsibilities make it a complicated time. But research from psychology, neuroscience, biology and case studies all points to the same surprising conclusion: there are concrete steps we can take to flourish in these middle years.

For her new book Life Reimagined, Barbara Bradley Hagerty spent more than two years reporting around the country, conducting more than 400 interviews, many of them on tape. And along with her personal narrative she brings some startling and compelling findings. These findings offer lessons for our work, our marriages, our families and how we position ourselves for the next chapter.

The series Stuck in the Middle will be featured on Morning Edition and All Things Considered and NPR's digital platforms the week of March 14.

Stories include:

The Myth of the Mid-Life Crisis
This phenomenon -- the red Corvette, the young trophy wife -- is entrenched in American popular culture. But researchers have found that only about 10 percent of Americans suffer such a midlife crisis. What is nearly universal, however, is midlife ennui. Hear from people with a range of midlife experiences, drawn from hundreds of personal stories submitted to NPR Facebook.

Midlife Brain
Yes, your brain is shrinking; yes, it is slower; and yes, you sometimes (often?) forget the names of acquaintances or restaurants. But research shows the middle-aged brain is operating at its peak, as journalist Barbara Bradley Hagerty reports.

Why Friends Keep You Alive -- And Loneliness Kills
Studies suggest people between 45 and 65 may be the loneliest age group in the U.S., because so many are divorced and work independently in this new economy. That's a big problem, and fixing it could keep your body and brain healthy.

Midlife Marriage
Baby boomer marriage is in such crisis that researchers now call it the "Gray Divorce Revolution," as happy couples part ways after years of marriage. Author and journalist Barbara Bradley Hagerty reports on surprising research on what helps couples survive.

Finding A Little Purpose
One major secret to midlife happiness is picking up a new pursuit or resurrecting an old passion. Whether it's picking up guitar or learning Spanish, researchers found that finding a purpose in midlife thwarts the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

The Meaning of Work
It may sound counterintuitive, but researchers, psychologists and career experts say that midlife is the best time to rethink your career. Barbara Bradley Hagerty follows a career coach who's helping a client move from a dead-end job to a more meaningful career.