Seniors Who Don't Drive More Likely to Require Care

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THURSDAY, June 1 (HealthDay News) — If you’re wondering whether your aging parent is going to end up in a nursing or retirement home, check whether he is tooling around in his car or staying inside.

Elderly people’s driving habits — or lack thereof — could offer a glimpse into their future, a new study suggests.

Researchers who studied the elderly living in a small Maryland town found that those who had stopped driving were nearly five times more likely to require assistance with meals or nursing care, even when certain health factors were taken into account. Those who never drove or lived in homes without drivers were also more prone to need care.

“We expect older adults to make good decisions about when they should stop driving, but we fail to fully recognize the hardships that not being able to drive places on an older adult,” the study authors wrote.

They examined the results of a 1993-1995 survey of adults aged 65 to 84 who lived in or near Salisbury, a town of 23,000 people. Then they checked to see what happened to those seniors as late as 2003, and received close to 1,600 responses.

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