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Older Adults Can Hardly Distinguish between Weights of Objects They Lift

Update Date: Oct 25, 2012 08:56 AM EDT

A new study suggests that as people grow older, their ability to rightly estimate the weight of the objects they lift keeps diminishing.

The study, by Jessica Holmin and Farley Norman from North Dakota State University and Western Kentucky University respectively, suggests that older citizens cannot understand much difference between the weights of the different objects they lift.

There have been studies conducted previously which have claimed that as people age, there is a decrease in their muscle mass and consequently, strength, which makes it difficult for them to lift heavy objects. Consequently, older people always perceive things as being heavier than they actually are, Medical Xpress reported.

In the current study, researchers took these findings a step further to assess the ability of older adults to differentiate between the ratio of two weights lifted in succession, and compared it to the ability of their younger counterparts.

For the study, the researchers asked participants of two age groups, 18-31 and 64-78 years to lift paired weights. They were asked to pick up the weights individually, and were then asked to estimate how heavy they thought one object was as compared to the other one.

The answers given by the participants revealed that the older adults were far from accurate when compared to the younger group, consistently estimating the weight ratios as much higher than they actually were.

According to the researchers, the findings of their study may be useful in designing clinical tests to assess the effects of aging on the brain.

The study was published Oct. 24 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

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