Driving and the Elderly

According to a new study conducted by scientists from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, when elderly people stop driving due to obvious reasons such as less sharp motor skills and less coordinated reflexes, said people’s cognitive skills experience deterioration and the risk that they succumb to depression heightens.

At present, 81% of the 29.5 million adults over the age of 65 possess a driver’s license and continue to drive the streets they wish to cruise through. The rest of them permanently have to park their crs in the driveway, though.

Analyzing quantitative health data for drivers aged 55 above, senior study author Dr. Guohua Li, professor and Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention founding director, said: “Unfortunately, it is almost inevitable to face the decision to stop driving during the process of aging as cognitive and physical functions continue to decline.”

For her part, Dr. Thelma Mielenz, co-author of the study and an assistant professor of epidemiology said engaging in indoor activities inside the house may not be as beneficial for the body of ex-drivers as when they were working or performing day-to-day physical activities outside the house.

Li said driving contributes to “mobility, physical, and social functioning” and when a person ceases to do this activity because of advanced age, there can be effects to his well-being.

Also, the idea of someone needing to stop driving because of debilitating physical functions can be a very emotional matter, and can very well lead to depression. Still, a bruised heart or ego is better than a mangled body because of a car accident, so it is important for a relative of the elderly person to determine whether the senior needs to alter his or her driving habits or needs to stop driving altogether.

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