SeniorJournal.com - Daily News for Senior Citizens

  FRONT PAGE Aging • Health • Alzheimer's - Mental • Nutrition • Medicare & Medicaid Politics  • Fitness  • Social Security • Alerts • Sex Health • Features • Retirement  Elder Care  >Search  >Senior Links

Senior Journal: Today's News and Information for Senior Citizens & Baby Boomers

More Senior Citizen News and Information Than Any Other Source - SeniorJournal.com

• Go to more on Aging News & Information or More Senior News on the Front Page

 
 

E-mail this page to a friend!

Aging News & Information

Even Healthy Senior Citizens Struggle with Decision-Making and Avoid Risk

With increased age comes decreased risk-taking in decision-making, finds new study

Oct. 4, 2013 - When a senior citizen has trouble making a decision, and seems to be seeking the choice with the least risk, many may be prone to suggest there is some dementia involved. Not so, finds a new study – people are just less able to make decisions as they age. And, when they do, they are most likely to choose the safest option.

The study by researchers at Yale School of Medicine also concluded that older people are more risk-averse than their midlife counterparts when choosing between possible gains, but more risk-seeking when choosing between losses.

Scientists have long-observed that cognitive function improves throughout adolescence, peaks in adulthood, and declines with age, but behavioral changes in decision-making across a lifespan have been largely unstudied. These skills have implications for problems associated with poor decision-making.

Ifat Levy, assistant professor in comparative medicine and neurobiology at Yale, and colleagues recruited 135 healthy participants to study how decision-making functions change across a lifespan by measuring attitudes toward risk and ambiguity between the ages of 12 and 90.

The authors describe their findings:

“First, we found that healthy elders between the ages of 65 and 90 were strikingly inconsistent in their choices compared with younger subjects. Just as elders show profound declines in cognitive function, they also show profound declines in choice rationality compared with their younger peers.

“Second, we found that the widely documented phenomenon of ambiguity aversion is specific to the gain domain and does not occur in the loss domain, except for a slight effect in older adults.

“Finally, extending an earlier report by our group, we found that risk attitudes across the life span show an inverted U-shaped function; both elders and adolescents are more risk-averse than their midlife counterparts.

“Taken together, these characterizations of decision-making function across the life span in this urban cohort strengthen the conclusions of previous reports suggesting a profound impact of aging on cognitive function in this domain.”

The participants made 320 choices grouped in blocks of gain and loss trials.

In gain trials, participants chose between a certain gain of $5 and a lottery that differed systematically in the amount of a possible monetary gain. Loss trials were identical to gain trials, except all amounts were negative.

In one example, a participant faced a choice between losing $5 for certain, and equal chances of losing $8 or losing nothing ($0). This design allowed Levy and her team to estimate attitudes to both known (risky) and unknown (ambiguous) financial risks.

By repeating each choice situation several times, the design also allowed the investigators to estimate how consistent the participants were in the choices they made.

On average, older adults made decisions that resulted in the lowest expected monetary outcomes, compared with midlife participants.

 

Related Archive Stories

 

 

How to Stay Mentally Sharp in Your Retirement Years

New study has three major findings that forecast cognitive ability in one’s senior years

Oct. 2, 2013

Brains of Old People are Slowing but Experience More than Makes Up for the Decline

Past research shows fluid intelligence declines with age, but provides no definitive conclusion as to whether decision-making abilities declines as people age

Sept. 25, 2013


Read the latest news on

Aging

 

Even the healthiest of elders showed profoundly compromised decision-making, and risk attitudes showed systematic changes across the lifespan that the authors say have important policy implications.

"This is an issue of pressing importance that has only received limited attention," said Levy. "It is often assumed that decision-makers at any age have both the right and ability to make their own choices that maximizes their welfare, but our data suggest that this one-size-fits-all approach may be wrong for models that target broad populations."

Levy said this is one of the first studies done on age and preference, but further work needs to be done. "Even though this is a small study, it revealed the existence of important age-related patterns in decision-making," she said.

The study appears in the Sept. 30 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Other authors on the study include Agnieszka Tymula from the University of Sydney, Australia, Lior A. Rosenberg Belmaker, and Lital Ruderman from Yale School of Medicine, and Paul W. Glimcher from New York University.

The study was supported by the National Institute of Aging.

 

> Medical Malpractice,

> Nursing Home Abuse,

> Personal Injury

Our Experienced Lawyers Can Help

Beth Janicek, Board Certified Personal Injury Attorney"We win because we care, we prepare and we have no fear," Beth Janicek, board certified personal injury attorney

 

Free Consultation on your case.

Call Now Toll Free

1-877-795-3425

or Send Email

More at our Website

Search for more about this topic on SeniorJournal.com

Google Web SeniorJournal.com
 

Keep up with the latest news for senior citizens, baby boomers

Click to More Senior News on the Front Page

Copyright: SeniorJournal.com

    

 

Published by New Tech Media - www.NewTechMedia.com

Other New Tech Media sites include CaroleSutherland.com, BethJanicek.com, SASeniors.com, DrugDanger.com, etc.