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Can Altruism Increase with Age?

By , 12:44 am on

It’s generally assumed that senior citizens are much more mellow and compassionate than young adults. In a recent experiment at the University of Oregon, a study was done to determine the extent to which aging can increase altruism. The staff and students at this institution simply wanted to find out if people truly become more caring with age. The finding may be surprising for seniors, families and Chicago home caregivers.

Psychology professor Ulrich Mayr took a leading role in the experiment. He was assisted by one of his students who sought to get a doctorate certification. They agreed that from a scientific point of view, altruism could be measured to a certain extent with a complex apparatus such as an MRI scanner. The study relied heavily on the use of such imaging technology that can detect neural activity in a person’s brain. When humans feel certain emotions, specific parts of the brain are more active than others and light up in MRI scans. The experiment tried to pinpoint the area of the brain that is responsible for positive feelings that a person might feel in reaction to altruistic behavior.

The age range for the 80 people who participated in the study was between 18 and 67. In addition to being exposed to MRI scans, each person in the experiment also filled out an extensive questionnaire about various topics that defined personality and other social factors. The participants had to react to unique circumstances involving the transfer of money to different destinations. In some cases, the individuals were presented with hypothetical situations that directly benefited them instead of others. In other trials, the participants had to respond to situations in which money was donated to charities.

The study concluded that people over the age of 45 truly enjoyed the positive feelings that came with donating funds to charitable causes. On a small scale, this experiment solidified the belief that aging makes people more altruistic.

You, too, can feel altruistic when you hire a trusted Chicago senior home care agency to look after your senior loved one. Home Care Assistance provides flexible live-in and hourly service that accommodates your loved one’s busy schedule and tends to his or her individual needs. Whether your loved one needs help running errands, preparing meals, or doing household chores, our highly trained caregivers will help. Call (847) 906-3991 today to learn more about our services and schedule a free in-home consultation.

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