0347 GMT December 14, 2019
The follow-up study by scientists at the University of Tsukuba and other institutions backs the long-held argument that elderly people’s health deteriorates if their activity drops because they cannot move around freely in their cars, asahi.com wrote.
A series of fatal traffic accidents caused by elderly drivers prompted authorities to require seniors to take cognitive tests for license renewals and urge them to voluntarily hand in their keys.
“It is important to prevent accidents, but we should also promptly devise programs to help elderly people drive safely and to build a community that is easily accessible,” said Masao Ichikawa, a professor of community hygiene at the University of Tsukuba who compiled the study report.
The research involved about 2,800 men and women aged 65 or older in Aichi Prefecture who regularly drive to get around their communities.
The scientists asked drivers who were not certified as in need of care in 2006 and 2007 whether they were still driving in August 2010.
They also studied the drivers’ health conditions, including their cognitive functions, and monitored their health until November 2016.
The team then analyzed whether continuing or giving up driving correlated with being certified as in need of care.
Those who were determined to need care soon after 2010 were excluded from the study.
According to the results, elderly people who stopped driving as of 2010 were 2.09 times more likely to be certified as in need of care than those who kept driving.
Those who switched from driving to taking public transportation, such as trains or buses, or riding bicycles were 1.69 times more likely to be in need of care.
The rate was 2.16 times higher among elderly people who ended up relying on relatives to drive them around.