By JOE DeLAUTER
Special to the Sun-Gazette
Q: Uncle Charlie is making some questionable decisions that he would never had made 10 or even five years ago, but I don't think he has dementia. If the trend continues, however, I don't see how this fiercely independent 79-year-old gentleman can continue to live alone. Any explanation for his recent run of wrong choices?
A: Trying to figure out why Uncle Charlie's decision process has gone awry is best left to his medical professional.
Recent research has shed new light on the kind of problems facing Uncle Charlie, but perhaps the best practical solution would be finding a professional caregiver - such as one from his local Home Instead Senior Care office - to help him remain in his home.
The study, which uncovered changes in the patterns of brain activity of those in their 70s, has offered fresh insight into why those seniors are worse at decision-making than young people.
Poorer decision-making is a natural part of the aging process that stems from a decline in our brains' ability to learn from our experiences.
Researchers also discovered that a Parkinson's disease drug, L-DOPA, can help reverse age-related impairments in decision-making in seniors.
L-DOPA, more commonly known as Levodopa, increases levels of dopamine in the brain.
The study from researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, London, England, was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
"Careful investigation into the subtle cognitive changes that take place as we age offers important insights into what may happen at both a functional and anatomical level in older people who have problems making decisions," said Dr. John Williams, head of neuroscience and mental health at the Wellcome Trust. "That the (research) team was able to reverse these changes by manipulating dopamine levels offers the hope of therapeutic approaches that could allow older people to function more effectively in the wider community."
Why not check out the benefits of assistance at home for Uncle Charlie. Personal and home care aides, like those employed by Home Instead Senior Care, are screened, trained, bonded and insured.
Oftentimes CAREGivers are seniors themselves who share many of the same interests and hobbies with their clients.
For more information about Home Instead Senior Care, contact DeLauter at 866-522-6533 or visit www.homeinstead.com.
For more about the study, see
DeLauter is the owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Lewisburg, which serves Union, Snyder, Northumberland, Lycoming, Clinton, Montour and Columbia counties.