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Lifelong Learning

Boomers better at long-term decision making than young adults

There is often a perception that young adults have sharper minds than their baby boomer counterparts, but results of a new study suggest that that notion may not be as true as once thought. Research conducted in Texas shows that older adults make better long-term decisions than people in their 20s, United Press International reports.

The study conducted by University of Texas's Todd Maddox and Texas A&M's Darrell Worthy, discovered that the younger participants in the research were far more concerned with instant gratification. Comparatively, adults in their 60s were better at using strategy to make the best choice for long-term success.

"Broadly, these results suggest that younger adults may behave more impulsively, favoring immediate gains, while older adults are better at considering the long-term ramifications of their actions," Maddox said in a statement, according to UPI.

The most telling test was a hypothetical situation that required participants to conserve oxygen while on an imaginary space mission to Mars. Older adults performed much better by electing to focus on "oxygen accumulators" rather than other areas.

Decision-making is not the only area where baby boomers have performed better than younger people in recent months. According to seniorjournal.com, earlier this summer boomers between the ages of 60 and 65 earned the highest score 2011 GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test, with an average score of 80.3 percent to overall average of 77.9 percent.

Part of the reason for the impressive performances on driving and decision-making tests may stem from a growing number of baby boomers heading back to school to reap the benefits of lifelong learning. Most recently, U.S. News and World Reports cited statistics that showed that over the last 10 years or so, the number of college students between the ages of 40 and 64 has grown to almost two million.

Boomers looking to head back to school have many opportunities to do so as retirement communities often provide easy access to programs aimed specifically at their age group. Del Webb Celebrate is one such program, which allows homeowners to participate in the Mary Washington ElderStudy program at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The program has something for everyone, with 40 two-hour sessions each semester taught by college faculty and other professionals. 

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