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Study: Experiences May Help Keep Seniors Sharp

Alzheimer's and Memory Care, Caregivers and Families, Health and Wellness, Senior Living Options

Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Seniors experience a number of age-related changes as they get older, and some of the most common concern their memory and cognitive abilities. A new study from the University of California, Riverside suggests that while seniors’ brain function may in fact be slowing down, their accumulated experiences and wisdom may be enough to make up for any shortcomings, especially as it relates to financial literacy. The findings were published in the journal Psychology and Aging.

The study was primarily focused on measuring seniors’ fluid and crystallized intelligence. Fluid refers to a kind of intelligence that deals with the ability to learn new information, while crystallized is related to gained knowledge and experience. Researchers began by asking participants questions meant to assess their economic decision-making skills. The team found that the older participants – who were between 60 and 82 – performed as well as or better than the younger subjects, who were between 18 and 29. Experts suggest this is because the decrease in fluid intelligence is made up for by seniors’ improved crystallized intelligence.

“The findings confirm our hypothesis that experience and acquired knowledge from a lifetime of decision making offset the declining ability to learn new information,” said Ye Li, an assistant professor at the school and lead author of the study.

This isn’t the first study that could potentially reshape the way the senior living population views brain health. Previous research has suggested that even older adults with mild cognitive impairment can improve their memory and cognitive function with smart lifestyle choices. According to the Mayo Clinic, activities such as continued social engagement, regular physical activity and mental stimulation can all improve memory in seniors.

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