What are the implications of driving cessation?
Driving cessation can lead to the following.
- Declines in:
- General health
- Physical health
- Social health
- 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.