Being behind the wheel is a key factor older adults use in measuring an independent living and a life of satisfaction. Driving is said to be an important aspect of having control over one’s life; and 81 percent of adults aged 65 and over tend to live by this notion.
Unfortunately, as majority of older adults strive to get hold of driving licence; age-related decline in physical and cognitive functions make driving more difficult for them, thereby causing them to stop driving abruptly. But, a new study claims life would be better for them if they’d remain behind the wheel; because their health is impacted in varieties of ways as they stop driving.
From findings published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers reviewed 16 studies that examined driving cessation in older adults; the well-being of older adults after they stopped driving.
The team noted that driving cessation doubles the depressive symptoms, and also contributes to diminished cognitive abilities and physical functioning, and increased risk of death.
“For many older adults, driving is more than a privilege; it is instrumental to their daily living and is a strong indicator of self-control, personal freedom, and independence,” said Guohua Li, MD, DrPH, founding director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia.
Thelma Mielenz, PhD, assistant professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School added that driving cessation accounts for 51-percent reduction in the size of social networks of friends and relatives–something the researchers say can affect the social lives of seniors and their ability to engage with others i.e. they have fewer out-of-home activities after they stop driving.
However, Dr. Li concludes that an effective program that will ensure older adults mobility and social functioning should be provided.