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What Are the Implications of Driving Cessation?

Wendy Stav, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

March 15, 2023

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Question

What are the implications of driving cessation?

Answer

Driving cessation can lead to the following.

  • Declines in:
    • General health
    • Physical health
    • Social health
    • Cognition
  • Increases in:
    • Entry into long-term care
    • Risk of mortality
    • Depressive symptoms

(Chihuri et al., 2016)

It can be quite devastating when someone cannot drive anymore. There can be declines in physical, social, and cognitive health. We know that when people stop driving, there can be an increase in admissions to long-term care. There is also an increased risk of mortality and depressive symptoms.

I want to address this depressive symptoms piece for a minute. Since the mid-nineties, research has shown that when older adults stop driving, they have an increase in depressive symptoms, like it was a direct causation.

When I put on my occupational therapy hat, I think, of course, it is a bummer when you lose the ability to drive. Still, as an OT and my strong belief system in the connection between health and occupational engagement, I realize that driving cessation means that people experience tremendous occupational loss. They cannot see friends, volunteer, go to the doctor's office, go grocery shopping, go to their bowling league, or what have you. It is occupational loss that causes health decline, specifically depressive symptoms.

The big difference between how an OT versus others look at older driver issues is that we recognize a very strong link to occupational engagement.

 

This Ask the Expert is an edited excerpt from the course, Optimizing Mobility And Community Engagement For Older Clients, by Wendy Stav, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA.


wendy stav

Wendy Stav, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Wendy B. Stav, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA received a BS in occupational therapy from Quinnipiac University and a PhD in occupational therapy from Nova Southeastern University. For more than 20 years her work focused on driving and community mobility specific to clinical practice, program development, medical reporting, driver licensing, and assessment predictability. Dr. Stav was named to the AOTA Roster of Fellows in 2009 for her contributions to driving and community mobility practice. Her focus on driving was grounded in her passion for occupation and the role of community mobility as an occupation enabler. So, in 2015 she transitioned her research line to occupation-based practice and has since developed a practice model, an assessment to measure practice, and completed two occupation-based clinic makeover studies.  Dr. Stav recently relocated to St. Louis to serve as the Chair of the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.

 


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