Seniors Who Stop Driving Vulnerable to Health Issues


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Seniors Who Stop Driving More Vulnerable to Health Issues

From Gary Freeman of the Home Instead Senior Care® office in Red Oak, TX 

Q.    Since I turned 90, my children are convinced I should stop driving. But I feel as though I am still a very safe driver. Driving is one of my last few pleasures in this world. I've never had an accident or a traffic ticket. There is just no evidence that I am unsafe.                                                                                 

​Your interest in continuing to drive has more ramifications than you may think. You enjoy regularly getting out on the road. And that is providing you more than just pleasure.

When senior citizens stop driving their risk of developing symptoms of depression doubles and their physical health is also negatively impacted in a number of ways. All this may lead to faster declines in both physical and mental health as well as increased risk of death, according to a new study.

In this study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers reviewed 16 studies that examined the health and well-being of older adults after they stopped driving.

Driving a car is a key factor in independent living and life satisfaction for older adults. In the U.S., driving is considered an important aspect of personal freedom and gives people a sense of control over their lives.

Several factors are likely responsible for these findings, noted the researchers. For example, after they stop driving, seniors have fewer out-of-home activities, and as a result may have fewer opportunities for social interaction.

"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," noted Guohua Li, M.D., DrPH, the senior author of the study, professor of epidemiology and the founding director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University.

While you continue to drive, it is important that you remain physically and mentally able to drive safely. Why not encourage family members to ride with you periodically. Visit the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. They have many resources including an interactive database, Roadwise Rx, that helps seniors and other drivers identify how side effects and interactions from both prescription and over-the-counter medications can impair driving.

​If you do need to eventually quit driving, there are many options available including support from your local Home Instead Senior Care® office. Call today to learn more.

For more information about your local Home Instead Senior Care office, contact Gary Freeman at 972-576-1100 or go to HomeInstead.com/742. For more information about the research, visit http://www.healthinaging.org/news/research-summaries/article:​02-05-2016-12-00am-when-older-adults-stop-driving-it-may-impact-health-and-well-being/.   

Each Home Instead Senior Care® franchise office is independently owned and operated.

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