The risk of depression doubles up when adults stop driving according to a new study published in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Researchers also conclude that driver cessation or stopping yourself from driving deteriorates physical and mental health at a rapid rate, increasing the risk of death.

The study states that driving gives people freedom or allows them to feel control over their lives, resulting to their satisfaction and independence. However, age-related problems and cognitive functions make driving a more complicated task for older adults, leading this age group to drive less or eventually stop driving.

“For many older adults, driving is more than a privilege. It is instrumental to their daily living and is a strong indicator of self-control, personal freedom, and independence. It is almost inevitable to face the decision to stop driving during the aging process as cognitive and physical functions decline,” says senior author Guohua Li, a professor of epidemiology and the founding director of the Centre for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University.

Dave FarmerDoric Donell | Australia Network News

Dave Farmer

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

The study involved analysing 16 previous studies that have observed the impact driving cessation had on the health and well-being of older adults. Their physical and mental health declined, increasing the risk of developing depression and even death.

The team believes that these health problems could have risen from carrying out fewer activities outdoors. Plus, these adults also socialised less frequently than they did when they still drove vehicles.

Li suggests that other transportation options will not combat these problems. Instead, the researcher insists that programmes are crucial to help these adults live healthily and keep them fully functioning despite not being allowed to drive anymore.