Elderly Can Be Poor Decision-Makers

Someone forwarded me an email last year warning people about illegitimate phone calls being made to elderly people in particular. The callers were targeting senior citizens, claiming to be a relative in trouble and asking for money. It’s scary to think that there are people who make it their job to take advantage of the elderly, but it does happen.

As we get older, our memory may fade, making seniors much more vulnerable to fraud than the rest of the population. A 2009 Cerebrum article focused on poor decision-making by seniors. An article published last week in The Globe & Mail (Canada) discusses the part of the brain that leads to those poor decisions.


In the article, researchers from the University of Iowa said the “ventromedial prefrontal cortex (or vmPFC) can deteriorate with age” and “could be the reason why some seniors are especially vulnerable to financial fraudsters and charlatans.” The research uncovered that people with a damaged vmPFC were more likely to fall for misleading advertisements. The research also found that the vmPFC “loses its structural integrity,” which can cause it to malfunction over time.

For more information on memory, seniors, and aging, you can check out our Brain Resources for Seniors section.

–Blayne Jeffries

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