According to new research reported by Science Daily, health declines faster after older adults lose their license or stop driving. Read on to learn how you can fight back against this fact and maintain a high quality of life even after losing your license.

Earning your driver’s license is the first step to freedom and independence. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the loss of a driver’s license can make one feel like they’ve been robbed of their freedom and independence.

A driver’s license is often described as a “privilege,” but over time it starts to feel more like an instrumental accessory to everyday life. When suddenly one day you can no longer drive, it’s perfectly normal to feel lost—how are you supposed to get around and maintain the life you are used to living?

81% of adults in the US who are 65 and older still have their driver’s license. As age increases, the percent of active drivers decreases. That’s because with age comes cognitive and physical changes that impact the ability to safely drive and navigate roads.

What Researchers Discovered About Driving & Senior Health

Researchers based out of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health assessed the health and wellbeing of older adults before and after losing their driver’s license. The results showed significant increases in depressive disorders, along with reduced cognitive and physical capabilities after losing the ability to drive. The findings were significant enough to be published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Research was conducted by Guohua Li, MD, DrPH and his team of researchers at Columbia University. They assessed quantitative health-related data sourced from 16 other studies and compared relative results with current data. The study relied on previous findings along with 10 years of empirical research.

  • The study found older adults who no longer drove declined in cognitive functioning and physical mobility as much as 2x faster than elderly adults who still drove.
  • Additionally, once seniors stopped driving there was a 51% decrease in size of social circles, including friends and relatives. This study found reduced social health was more prominent in women compared to men.
  • Seniors who lost their license were 5 times more likely to move into a nursing home or assisted living community.

The belief is that seniors who do not drive start to stay home more often. Home-based activities do not necessarily provide the same amount of exertion or stimuli, leading to a decline of physical and mental capabilities. As the saying goes, if you don’t use it you lose it. 

4 Ways You Can Fight Back Against the Research

There’s no way to stop a senior from losing his or her license. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to reduce the negative side effects that can result from the loss of a driver’s license.

Stay Active

Join a group or pick up an activity that gets you out of the house at least 3 times per week. The socialization, along with cognitive and physical exercise, can do wonders to preserve your health. Some senior programs include transportation to and from activities.

Keep Challenging Your Mind

Keep your mind as fit as a fiddle by exercising it daily. Work through tricky puzzles, read as much as you can, and continue to learn new things. 

Get Outside Every Day

Seniors who no longer drive often coup themselves up in the house for extended periods of time. Even if you can’t drive, you can still get out of the house using your two feet, a walker, or a wheelchair. If possible, take a stroll around your neighborhood at least once a day. Even if it’s just a short jaunt, you’ll benefit from the exercise, fresh air, and potential socialization with neighbors. 

Invest in Quality Non-Emergency Medical Transportation

The next best thing to driving yourself is having a reliable transportation system you can count on to take you anywhere. Stellar Transportation offers superior non-emergency medical transportation in Melbourne, FL and beyond. We specialize in senior, wheelchair, and stretcher transportation. All drivers are certified in senior sensitivity training. Plus, we offer door-through-door services.

We are trusted to take seniors everywhere, from doctor appointments to family dinners. Contact us today to get a free quote for local or long distance transportation.