Brian Carpenter


Professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences

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Carpenter conducts research on the clinical psychology of aging. His research focuses on family relationships in late life, with a particular emphasis on collaborative family communication and decision-making. Other research activities focus on older patient-physician interactions, knowledge about Alzheimer’s disease, and mental health issues at the end of life.

In the media

Stories

WashU Expert: Grieving in the time of a pandemic

WashU Expert: Grieving in the time of a pandemic

At a time when the world is focused on a global health pandemic, Brian Carpenter, a professor of psychological and brain sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, says it may be difficult to grieve for and memorialize an individual. But we must.
WashU Expert: Five holiday talking points for families facing aging, end-of-life decisions

WashU Expert: Five holiday talking points for families facing aging, end-of-life decisions

Few things are as certain as the end of life, so why is it so hard to talk about? That’s a question that many families will be grappling with over the holidays. And while it’s easy to put off dark discussions during festive times, it’s best to have them sooner than later, says Brian Carpenter, a psychologist who studies family relations in later life at Washington University in St. Louis.

When I’m 64: Imagining the future of aging

Today’s freshmen students have a 50 percent chance of living to see their 100th birthdays. They are in the middle of a demographic revolution that will shape every aspect of their lives. A new interdisciplinary course for freshmen introduced this fall, “When I’m Sixty-Four: Transforming Your Future,” aims to prepare students for this aging revolution and to encourage them to examine their present and future lives in more detail.

Dementia diagnosis brings relief, not depression

Emotional concerns are a serious consideration with the diagnosis of dementia.When it comes to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, what you don’t know may not kill you, but knowing the truth as soon as possible appears to be the better approach — one that may improve the emotional well-being of both patients and their caregivers, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.

Researchers find older folks don’t get the joke

It’s no laughing matter that older adults have a tougher time understanding basic jokes than do younger adults. It’s partially due to a cognitive decline associated with age, according to Washington University in St. Louis researchers Wingyun Mak, a graduate student in psychology in Arts & Sciences, and Brian Carpenter, Ph.D., Washington University associate professor of psychology.

No consensus on when, how, by whom — even if — Alzheimer’s patients are told of their disease

Photo courtesy of Alzheimer’s Association, St. Louis ChapterA WUSTL psychologist says there is little consensus among doctors when it comes to disclosing a dementia diagnosis to patients and their caregivers.To tell or not to tell, that is the question. Should Alzheimer’s disease patients be told of the diagnosis? If so, when, how and by whom? Brian D. Carpenter, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, conducted a review of related study literature that shows there is little consensus among clinicians on the issue of disclosing a dementia diagnosis and great room for much more research. Carpenter’s review, done with research assistant Jennifer Dave, was published in the April 2004 issue of The Gerontologist. “If contemporary debate and practice are any indication, there is no consensus on these matters,” Carpenter says in the article “Disclosing a Dementia Diagnosis: A Review of Opinion and Practice, and a Proposed Research Agenda.”

Be prepared to deal with parents’ aging before a crisis hits

U.S. Administration on AgingAging is a women’s issue because women provide the bulk of care and support to older adults.An aging parent wants to keep the car keys, while his adult daughter thinks he is a hazard to himself and others on the road. Or a widow who has lived in her home for 55 years refuses to move out, although her children worry that she’s too frail to manage the stairs. As more and more adult children face caring for their aging parents in the coming decades, an expert on the clinical psychology of aging says the key to dealing with these types of situations is to discuss them before they become a reality. “Don’t procrastinate,” says Brian D. Carpenter, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. “Start the process of talking to your aging parents early — before a crisis.”