January 6, 2018 by
It is among the more tricky decisions we must confront in later years, and a remarkably delicate subject for adult children to initiate with their elder parents: surrendering the car keys. Driving a vehicle, while supplying an inherent sense of freedom and independence, can become significantly unsafe due to a number of conditions linked to growing older. And giving up that independence for safety’s sake can feel defeating.
Added to that is the new dilemma of the latest studies that show giving up driving can lead to both mental and physical decline. This determination leads to a vicious loop of declining health, leading to the need to stop driving, which results in further health decline through greater isolation, depression, and less physical activity.
The study, published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society , discovered that seniors who relinquished their driving rights became doubly prone to suffer from worsening depression, reduced physical functioning, and greater decline in cognitive abilities. And much more concerning, individuals who gave up on 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, decreasing driving during particular conditions will ease the transition into giving up the keys for good. The senior’s doctor should be consulted first, naturally, and with his or her approval, try reducing driving during 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 stay engaged in their community and to stay as mobile and socially involved as possible. Family are asked to seek out opportunities for their loved one to be involved in activities at a local senior center, exercise programs, volunteering, etc.
At Home Independent Living offers a helpful choice for Syracuse elderly care: safe, dependable transportation and accompaniment services, allowing seniors the freedom to continue to come and go as they wish, without placing themselves or others in harm’s way. We are aware of each senior’s preferred schedule to reach desired destinations, helping the senior to remain in full power over when and where to go. Contact us at 315.579.HOME to learn more.