Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

50+: Live Better, Longer

Font Size

Aging Brain, More Trouble With Financial Decisions?

Older people also tend to tolerate less financial risk, research suggests

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Randy Dotinga

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Years of research have produced conflicting findings on aging's effects on brainpower. Now, a new study says that people aged 65 to 90 are significantly less likely than their younger counterparts to make what researchers define as rational decisions regarding money.

Not surprisingly, they're also more averse to financial risk than middle-aged people, but not in all situations, the investigators found.

Families, doctors and other caregivers "should be aware of these profound differences" in how older people make decisions compared to younger people, said study co-author Ifat Levy. She cautioned that the tests used in the study have limitations, however, and "further research is needed to directly relate these measures to real-life behavior."

At issue is the ability of seniors to consider risk when it comes to money.

There's some evidence that some types of decisions in general actually do improve with age. "It seems that older adults may be better in decisions that rely mainly on prior experience and knowledge," explained Levy, an assistant professor of comparative medicine and neurobiology at Yale University.

Indeed, another study published recently in the September issue of the journal Psychology and Aging found that seniors can make better decisions than younger people because they know more. But their brains also work more slowly, and they need more time to figure out complex financial situations, that study also found.

In the new study, researchers gave test questions to 135 people in the age groups of 12 to 17 (adolescents), 21 to 25 (young adults), 30 to 50 (midlife adults) and 65 to 90 (older adults).

"Some of the choices were between gains: For example, would you prefer to receive $5 for sure or to play a lottery with a 50 percent chance to win $20?" Levy said. "Other choices were between losses: For example, would you rather lose $5 for sure or take a 25 percent chance of losing $50?"

One question had a "correct" answer, she noted. It asked participants to choose between winning $5 for sure or playing a lottery that would award $5 or nothing. "A participant who is interested in making money should always go for the sure amount in this case," Levy said.

Today on WebMD

Eating for a longer, healthier life.
woman biking
How to stay vital in your 50s and beyond.
womans finger tied with string
Learn how we remember, and why we forget.
man reviewing building plans
Do you know how to stay healthy as you age?
fast healthy snack ideas
how healthy is your mouth
dog on couch
doctor holding syringe
champagne toast
Two women wearing white leotards back to back
Man feeding woman
two senior women laughing