Give Up Car Keys, Get Depressed, Study Finds | Edmunds

Give Up Car Keys, Get Depressed, Study Finds

ORLANDO, Florida — Giving up the car keys may put older drivers on the road to depression, a new report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety said late Wednesday.

"Older adults who have stopped driving are almost two times more likely to suffer from depression and nearly five times as likely to enter a long-term care facility than those who remain behind the wheel," said the report, which was released by AAA and Columbia University.

Understanding the impact of giving up driving is critical, given that the number of drivers age 65 and older continues to increase in the U.S. Of the 39.5 million adults age 65 and older in the U.S., 81 percent hold a driver's license.

Quitting driving resulted in a 51 percent reduction in the size of social networks over a 13-year period, the report said.

It also contributed to an "accelerated decline in cognitive ability over a 10-year period."

Depression is characterized by depressed or sad mood, diminished interest in activities that used to be pleasurable, weight gain or loss, psychomotor agitation or retardation, fatigue, inappropriate guilt, difficulties concentrating, as well as recurrent thoughts of death, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Auto technologies and self-driving cars may help older drivers maintain their independence and mobility.

Tech giant Google is working on a car that drives itself. The AARP said that a variety of high-tech features, including smart headlights, assistive parking systems and blind-spot monitoring systems, may be of great help to older drivers.

Such features can be found in a wide variety of vehicles, including the Audi A6, Ford Escape and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Edmunds says: Your dealer will be happy to introduce you to new auto features that may keep you behind the wheel longer.

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