There often comes a time when health or mental issues make it necessary to revoke a senior’s driver’s license. But taking away those car keys or that driver’s license could have a disastrous effect on your loved one’s health. In fact, a new study at Rutgers University shows that losing the ability to drive not only dramatically cuts a senior’s social interaction but could affect everything from mental faculties to physical health.
The Importance of Social Interaction
Social interaction in seniors is so much more important than many of us take into account. It’s not just about staying in touch with friends and family it’s about engaging necessary portions of our brain, regulation of hormones and other biochemical components, and about living healthier for longer.
In fact, lead researcher Teja Pristavec says that “older adults who remain engaged in social life report being in better health, experience lower mortality risk over time, and have lower rates of depression, dementia and other cognitive impairments.”
That’s why it’s so important to keep seniors active and engaged in their communities and with family members and friends. However, sometimes that duty falls upon caregivers—especially when an individual reaches that point in their lives when they can no longer drive themselves.
The Importance of a Senior’s Driver’s License
What sort of impact does losing the ability to drive have?
Seniors who retained their driver’s licenses were nearly three-times more likely to get out and visit with friends and family than those who don’t drive. They were also more than twice as likely to attend social functions like church, group activities, or meetings. In fact, the physical activity of seniors who lose their license drops—dramatically—to match the level of individuals who have never driven in their lives.
You’ve probably seen the detrimental effects of being housebound on seniors you’ve known in the past. They become more and more reclusive and can suffer depression that only adds to other physical and mental issues they may be dealing with.
But that doesn’t have to be the path your loved one follows. There are things you can do to help them stay socially engaged even if they can no longer driver themselves.
Safe Transportation Alternatives for Seniors
The Rutgers Research shows there’s no noticeable difference in social interaction between seniors who drive themselves and seniors who take a bus or rely on other more able drivers. So if your senior’s driver’s license has been revoked, seek alternatives whenever possible.
If it’s a physical change that has left your loved one unable to drive, public transportation may be an option. Many urban areas in Texas have handicap and easily accessible transportation including public buses and service just for seniors that help older individuals get out and about.
Family and Friends
Alternatively, seniors can seek help from family and friends who can drive them where they need to go. This may necessitate the juggling of personal schedules but is a great option for individuals who don’t feel comfortable navigating public transportation alone.
Professional Senior Care Services
Second Family Home Care provides a variety on non-medical in home care for seniors in Plano, Texas and surrounding cities, including transportation services. We can help elderly individuals get to and from doctor’s appointments, regular meetings, social engagements, and routine chores like grocery and medicine runs.
Staying Social is Essential for Senior Health
Don’t let the seniors you love fall into a social black hole. Speak with them about how active and engaged they really are and discuss these helpful alternative transportation options to find out what they’re comfortable with. It could literally help them live a longer and healthier life.