Many older drivers face a difficult decision at some point – whether to stay behind the wheel or turn over their keys for good. While there is obviously no “one size fits all” answer, there is a new study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society that suggests staying behind the wheel helps many seniors stay healthy – longer.
Giving up the car keys was linked to an almost doubled risk of depression, the analysis found, a connection the researchers believe might be at least partly due to the social isolation or lack of independence that can ensue when elderly people can no longer get around by car.
“The decision to stop driving is not trivial but has significant implications for the patient’s health, well-being and life expectancy,” said senior study author Dr. Guohua Li of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York City.
According to psychcentral.com, “Older adults who had quit driving were also nearly five times as likely as those currently driving to be admitted to a nursing home, assisted living community, or retirement home.”
That said, the authors of the study acknowledge that we will all likely have to face the decision to stop driving at some point, as cognitive and physical functions decline with age. The Arizona Senora News ran a story back in November titled Senior Drivers Causing More Crashes. Clearly, knowing when the time is right to stop driving can be tricky.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) has a senior driving page on its website where older drivers can assess their driving ability through quizzes, self rating tools, and an interactive driving evaluation. AARP also offers online and in-person driver safety refresher courses for older drivers.
There are a lot of senior drivers on Arizona roads, so this is an important topic in our state. Let us know what you think. Building discussions around key health issues will continue to take us closer to our goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!