Driving: When Older Adults Stop, How Does It Impact Their Health?

First Posted: Feb 05, 2016 09:09 PM EST

A new study examines how stopping driving can impact the health and well-being of older adults. Findings published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society show that when older adults stop driving, their health is impacted in a variety of ways.

During this recent study, researchers reviewed 16 studies that examined the health and well-being of older adults after they stopped driving. Most adults continue to drive as they age and up to 81 percent of those over the age of 65 and up hold a driver's license in America. However, physical and cognitive functions make driving more difficult for older adults, and many people eventually reduce or stop driving altogether.

"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. 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," said Guohua Li, MD, DrPH, the senior author of the study, who is a professor of epidemiology and the founding director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University, in a news release.

However, he also notes that simply making alternative transportation available to older adults may not necessarily offset the adverse health effects of driving cessation. Instead, he stresses effective programs that both ensure and prolong an older individual's mobility, as well as their physical and social functioning. 

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