The older you get, the more experience you gain. And the more experience you have, the more capable you are at making independent decisions, whether they are choosing what restaurant to eat at or planning for your retirement.

That's the premise of a new paper which argues that despite aging, people are still able to make important decisions because of their crystalized intelligence, made up by a collection of life experiences and accumulated knowledge. This clashes with the long-standing assessment that aging results in a decline in fluid intelligence, defined as the ability and speed in processing new information, thereby making it harder for people to make decisions on complex matters, such as health care and finances. The paper argues that crystallized intelligence is a powerful alternative to fluid intelligence for being able to making these types of decisions.

"The research shows that despite cognitive graying, older people's financial decision making may be more 'golden' than a slowing brain might otherwise suggest," said the paper's lead author Ye Li, an assistant professor of management and marketing at the University of California Riverside School of Business Administration, reported.

The issue of decision-making on important subjects such as these continues to grow as a debate alongside the trend of aging. One in five Americans are predicted to be over the age of 65 by 2030 with the figure for people over 65 worldwide doubling by 2035. Policies, such as Obamacare and 401K plans have forced more people to make complex health and financial decisions, according to

As more people live past 65, they will have to budget the amount of money they have made over the years, figuring out how much to spend and how much to save to ensure their well-being in the years they have left, according to the paper published in December in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The paper is based on information collected from a series of tests taken by 478 people between the ages of 18 and 86. The exams tested each individual on cognitive, demographic, and decision-making matters, including sections on financial and health knowledge, and then combined the results of each participant with his or her credit score.

Both crystallized and fluid intelligence were found to be connected with higher credit scores and that though fluid intelligence does decrease with age, older people can still use their crystallized intelligence as a proper substitute. Researchers argue that policy makers and financial firms should take these two facts into account, one example being that they should organize health care plans based on monthly costs, out-of-pocket spending or previous health conditions covered under each plan.

“Developing tools to help this aging population manage their accumulated assets, as well as a host of other difficult decisions, will be best served not by simply examining the effect of age on performance, but the distinct roles of decreasing cognitive abilities and increasing (but eventually plateauing) domain-specific knowledge and expertise.,” said the authors in the paper.