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Driving's connection to healthy aging

Created date

May 10th, 2016
Senior in car.

Male senior in his car.

In this country, driving means freedom and enjoyment of life no matter how old you are. In fact, studies show that over 80% of adults over age 65 in the United States have a driver’s license.

Inevitably, however, the aging process can take a toll on the ability to drive safely. But now, researchers have found that when seniors stop driving, their health may suffer.

In a study recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers conducted a review of 16 studies, all of which examined the impact of driving cessation on the health of older adults. They found that when people stop driving, their risk of depression doubles. They also found that driving cessation may lead to faster physical decline and an increased risk of death.

There may be several reasons for these findings. The researchers conclude that seniors have significantly fewer opportunities for social contacts and physical activity when they surrender the keys. Thus, if seniors have to stop driving, researchers say they should make plans to maintain their mobility and previous activities. In addition, they should look for programs that offer regular social networking and seek out new ways to stay active. If you think you may be unsafe behind the wheel, talk to your doctor. There are programs that may help you be safer and stay on the road longer. But if it is your doctor’s opinion that you should stop, ask about setting up other transportation options.