Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Psychological and Quantitative Foundations
Natalie L. Denburg
William Ming Liu
Older adults are faced with many complex and critical decisions regarding retirement, health care, finances, and living situation, and their ability to make such decisions successfully has a profound impact on the individual and society as a whole. Numerous neurologically and psychiatrically healthy older adults do not make advantageous decisions: they get swindled and make poor financial choices. The vulnerability of such older adults has been postulated to be the result of disproportionate aging of the frontal lobes. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether decision-making performance among older adults can be improved as a result of pharmacological and/or psychoeducational intervention. Healthy community-dwelling persons were recruited to participate in four conditions: Lexapro, placebo, psychoeducational condition (Problem Solving Therapy [PST]), and waitlist control. Twenty-six elderly persons participated. Only six seniors participated in the pharmacological conditions due to unanticipated challenges with recruitment (e.g., lack of interest in drug studies, contraindications to study drug). Statistical comparisons were conducted to compare performance on several laboratory tasks of decision-making under conditions of ambiguity, risk, and deceptive advertising, between the PST group and Control group. The findings suggest that a psychosocial intervention can be effective in the enhancement of decision-making ability under ambiguity among healthy community-dwelling older adults and as such can provide a foundation for future investigations.
aging, decision making, older adults, problem-solving therapy
x, 123 pages
Includes bibliographical references (pages 100-123).
Copyright © 2016 Christopher Minh Nguyen