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How Ceasing Driving Impacts Mental Health

Declining health is a major reason older adults stop driving; but what impact does driving cessation have on subsequent health and wellbeing?

A new review of published studies in The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that ceasing driving may contribute to a host of health issues, especially depression.

Professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Publish Health and study lead author Dr Guohua Li highlighted the reasoning behind why this can happen.

“For many older adults, driving is instrumental to their daily living and is a strong indicator of self-control, personal freedom and independence,” Dr Li said.

“Unfortunately, it is almost inevitable to face the decision to stop driving during the process of ageing as cognitive and physical functions continue to decline.

“When the decision time comes, it is important to take into consideration the adverse health consequences of driving cessation and make personalized plans to maintain mobility and social functions.”

The study review incorporated 16 studies, all which met the inclusion criteria. The end result? Driving cessation was reported to be associated with declines in general health and physical, social, and cognitive function and with greater risks of admission to long-term care facilities and mortality.

Further analysis based on pooled data from five studies examining the association between ceasing driving and depression revealed that giving up your driving days almost doubled the risk of depressive symptoms in older adults.

In conclusion, the review encouraged older people giving up their automobile licences to consider adverse health consequences, but also to ensure other ways to remain mobile.

If you’ve given up driving, what did you do to combat the loss of mobility and “freedom”?