Giving up Driving: It May Be Bad for a Senior’s Health

Discussing an Elderly Parent's Ability to Drive a Car

Discussing an Elderly Parent's Ability to Drive a CarIt is among the more difficult decisions we face in older years, and an exceptionally sensitive matter for adult children to broach with their elderly parents: giving up driving. Driving a vehicle, while delivering an intrinsic feeling of freedom and independence, can become a tremendous threat to senior health due to a variety of conditions linked to aging. And giving up that freedom for safety’s sake can feel defeating.

Now we can add to the dilemma the recent findings that giving up driving can result in both physical and mental decline. This determination leads to a vicious circle of decreasing health, ultimately causing the need to give up driving, resulting in even further health decline due to more solitude, depression, and less physical activity.

The research, published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, found that seniors who surrendered their driving rights were two times as inclined to suffer from worsening depression, less physical functioning, and further decline in cognitive abilities. And much more concerning, those who ceased driving were more likely to die during the following 3-5 year time period.

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 certain conditions will ease the transition into relinquishing the keys altogether. The senior’s medical doctor should be consulted first, of course, and with his or her approval, try restricting driving in the nighttime, in poor weather, and in busier traffic.

Dr. Marian Betz, spokesperson for the American Federation for Aging Research, emphasizes the need for senior citizens to continue being involved in their community and to keep as mobile and socially engaged as possible. Family members are asked to look for opportunities for their aging loved one to get involved in activities at a local senior center, exercise programs, volunteering, etc. 

Heaven at Home Senior Care, a trusted provider of senior care in Frisco and the nearby areas, provides a practical solution: 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 pay attention to each senior’s preferred agenda to arrive at desired destinations, allowing the senior to remain in full control over when and where to go. Contact us at 866-381-0500 to learn more about why we are a leader in senior care in Frisco and the nearby areas.