It’s one of the most complicated decisions we face in later years, and a very delicate issue for adult children to broach with their senior parents: surrendering the car keys. Driving a vehicle, while creating an intrinsic sense of freedom and independence, may become very risky due to a variety of conditions pertaining to growing older. And letting go of that freedom for safety’s sake can feel defeating.
Additionally, we must now take into account the recent studies that giving up driving may have negative effects on senior health, namely physical and mental decline. This determination points to a vicious loop of decreasing health resulting in the need to give up driving, resulting in further health decline through further solitude, depression, and less physical activity.
The study, publicized by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, found that seniors who relinquished their driving rights became two times as inclined to suffer from intensifying depression, reduced physical functioning, and further decline in cognitive abilities. And much more concerning, those who stopped driving were more likely to die within the following 3-5 year time frame.
Senior researcher for the study and founding director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University Medical Center, Dr. Guohua Li, makes clear, “This is a very complex issue. It’s a sensitive balance, and the pros and cons of not driving need to be weighed on a case-by-case basis.”
In some cases, restricting driving during select conditions often helps ease the change into giving up the keys completely. The senior’s doctor should be consulted first, naturally, and with his or her approval, try limiting driving in the nighttime, in bad weather, and in busier traffic.
Dr. Marian Betz, spokesperson for the American Federation for Aging Research, stresses the need for elderly to remain engaged in their community and to remain as mobile and socially engaged as possible. Members of the family are encouraged to find opportunities for their senior loved one to get involved in activities at a local senior center, exercise programs, volunteering, etc.
Advanced Home Healthcare of Burlington, IA offers a helpful option: safe, reliable transportation and accompaniment services, allowing seniors the freedom to continue to come and go as they please, while not placing themselves or others in harm’s way. We pay attention to each senior’s preferred schedule to reach desired destinations, helping the individual to remain in full power over when and where to go. Contact us at 800.791.7785 to learn more about our Burlington home health care services.