Experience makes up for aging brain, study reveals

Q: I have been bored with my life since my husband died and I am considering going back to work part-time just to get out of the house.

At age 72, though, I’m not sure what I can do nor do I have the confidence to know whether I can even survive in the workforce.

I had worked full-time in accounting until age 65, but can I keep up with younger generations?

A: Here’s an encouraging study: Even though aging does cause brain decline, a University of California Riverside study has found that experience makes up for that decline.

The study is believed to be the first to measure decision-making over the lifespan through the lens of two types of intelligence: fluid and crystallized.

Fluid intelligence is the ability to learn and process information. Crystallized intelligence refers to experience and accumulated knowledge.

To conduct the study, researchers recruited a group of 336 people – 173 younger (ages 18 to 29) and 163 older (ages 60 to 82) – and asked them a series of questions that measured economic decision-making traits.

They also administered a battery of intelligence tests.

These traits included temporal discounting (how much people discount future gains and losses), loss aversion (how much the valuation of losses outweighs gains of the same magnitude), financial literacy (understanding financial information and decisions) and debt literacy (understanding debt contracts and interest rates).

They found the older participants performed as well or better than the younger participants in all four decision-making measures.

Returning to work after retirement can be a frightening prospect. But have confidence in your abilities to make a difference.

This might be a great time to try a new endeavor.

One part-time career that has proven popular among older adults is that of caring for other seniors.

Healthy professional caregivers are in demand as the population ages and desires to stay at home.

Your local Home Instead Senior Care office trains individuals with caring hearts to go into the homes and communities of older adults to help them with their non-medical needs.

Older adults often make great CAREGiversSM since they share many of the interests and hobbies of those for whom they are caring.

Contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office today to learn more.

To learn more about Home Instead Senior Care, contact Joe DeLauter at 866-522-6533 or go to HomeInstead.com.

For more information about the study, visit www.eurekalert.org/pub-releases/2013-09/uoc-oiw092413.php.

For more information about Home Instead Senior Care, contact DeLauter at 866-522-6533 or visit www.homeinstead.com.

DeLauter is the owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Lewisburg, which serves Union, Snyder, Northumberland, Lycoming, Clinton, Montour and Columbia counties.