Whether you’re 16 or 66, driving a car gives one a strong sense of independence. It lets you socialize, stay connected with the world and prevents isolation. As we age, some of us will be forced into driving cessation, due to a deterioration in vision or any number of reasons. But now researchers say not getting into the driver’s seat can cause adverse effects.
A team led by Columbia University researchers analyzed the findings of 16 studies of drivers over 55 and driving cessation. They looked at the outcomes of no longer driving and found declines in health, in addition to lower cognitive function, among those no longer driving.
“Driving cessation in older adults appears to contribute to a variety of health problems, particularly
depression,” the authors concluded in the study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
A microanalysis of five studies in particular found that giving up driving nearly doubled the risk of depression symptoms. Lower cognitive abilities were also an outcome.
The researchers stress the importance of older adults who no longer drive finding other avenues that ensure they aren’t socially isolated.
Safety on the road is a top concern and some groups have developed ways for older adults to get around when they can’t drive to ensure they don’t lose their quality of life.