Driving retirement puts older adults at health risk

Washington: Families should rethink about seniors’ decision of giving up driving as a new study suggests that older adults, who keep driving, are healthier than their non-driving counterparts.

The Columbia University researchers reviewed 16 studies that examined the health and well-being of older adults after they stopped driving and concluded that not being able to drive nearly doubles the risk of developing symptoms of depression in older adults.

The team also noted that stopping driving, also known as “driver cessation,” may lead to faster declines in physical and mental health function and increased risk of death.

Senior author Guohua Li said that 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. It is almost inevitable to face the decision to stop driving during the aging process as cognitive and physical functions decline.

Li added that when decision time comes, it is important to take into consideration the potential for adverse health consequences of driving cessation and to make personalized plans to maintain mobility and social activities.

However, Li noted that simply making alternative transportation available to older adults does not necessarily offset the adverse health effects of driving cessation. Effective programs that can ensure and prolong an older adult’s mobility, as well as physical and social functioning, are needed.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. (ANI)