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Drive or Die
Date:3/13/2009

Study shows giving up your keys has its down side

SAN FRANCISCO, March 13 /PRNewswire/ -- New study results being published in The Journals of Gerontology (Medical Sciences) indicate that convincing older drivers to give up their keys may not always be such a good idea.

The study of 660 adults aged 63 to 97 showed that people who stopped driving were four to six times more likely to die over a three-year period than their counterparts who still were driving.

The multi-year study, known as the Staying Keen In Later Life, or SKILL, study is funded by the National Institutes of Health. It began in 2000 and has followed people living in communities in the southern United States. University researchers followed study participants over three years in order to report on the connection between driving cessation and mortality.

"We knew from earlier research that cessation of driving generally leads to bad health outcomes," said lead investigator Jerri Edwards, PhD, of the University of South Florida. "We wanted to measure whether giving up your keys actually increased your risk of dying. We were surprised that even after controlling for other factors, the analysis showed that cessation of driving increased mortality risk by four to six times."

Serious mental and physical health decline has long been predictive of driving cessation, because with such deterioration in health people do (and should) stop driving. The surprise in this study was that after controlling for health status and other factors there was a link between driving cessation and mortality. This suggests that physicians may want to track changes in driving status as predictive of health issues. It also raises the possibility that keeping a person driving may improve quality and length of life.

Older people and their family members often have to deal with the difficult issue of when so
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SOURCE Posit Science
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