To stay healthy, seniors should try and eat healthy food and to engage in regular physical activity: preferring the stairs over the escalators, going for walks, doing gentle fitness routines, etc. But driving is also an important contributing factor to ageing well!
According to a study carried out by the Mailman School of Public Health in collaboration with the University of Columbia in the United States (Health goes downhill when older adults stop driving), driving after 55 helps maintain physical and mental health. To cease to drive halves the size of the social circle among respondents in the United States. What is at stake here is: dependency, isolation and the risk of developing depression.
Dependency and Isolation
To cease driving, means becoming dependent on a caregiver for journeys and gradually withdrawing from society. Driving is synonymous with autonomy and freedom. This is particularly true in the country where there is little public transport and moving about is almost impossible without a means of transport. Seniors who had to stop driving because of their health, have seen physical and cognitive decline worsen after they stopped using their cars.
In order to counter this decline, scientists advise to establish « a personalized programme to maintain mobility and social life ». Robotics projects to combat isolation have flourished all over the world. They could be a solution for protecting seniors with little contact with their families, even if these robots cannot substitute for personal presence. See our article: Robots who assist seniors in their everyday lives.
Twice the Risk of Developing Depression
According to the team of researchers, seniors who abruptly stop driving are twice as likely to develop depressive symptoms. They are also five times more likely to go to a retirement home before drivers. Women are the first ones to be affected because many among people aged 55 and over don’t have a driver’s licence or a car.
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