Driving a car regularly keeps cognitive functions of brain in tact and wards off any ill-effects of dementia at bay, said a new study that may see many senior citizens rushing to the wheel soon. Driving not only keeps the driver alert but also it gives them a feeling of self-control, personal freedom and independence, said researchers.
The study also found that whenever older people give up driving, their mental and physical health declined leading to several other issues haunting them and pushing them into depression.
“For many older adults, driving is instrumental to their daily living and is a strong indicator of self-control, personal freedom and independence,” pointed out lead researcher of Columbia University’s Guohua Li. “Unfortunately, it is almost inevitable to face the decision to stop driving during the process of aging as cognitive and physical functions continue to decline.”
He said before giving up driving, enough attention should be paid to the adverse health consequences which may befall on elderly people so that they can spend their time in other activities to keep their cognitive functions in tact. The study has been published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society.
According to the World Health Organization, around 71 million people in the Asia Pacific region will suffer from dementia by 2050 and India may top the list with over 12 million likely victims, second only to China.
The figures from a study titled “Dementia in the Asia Pacific Region” by Alzheimer’s Disease International(ADI) showed that dementia will present an overwhelming financial and human burden on healthcare systems of the nations too.
The report was launched at the conference organised by Alzheimer’s and Related Disorder Society of India(ARDSI) in collaboration with All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi.
The report has recommended the nations in the concerned region to develop a national dementia action plan detailing key areas for action, including research, awareness and education.
“There is a need to engage community groups and NGOs to spread awareness about dementia, its risk factors, importance of early diagnosis and steps to better manage the disease. The government should develop comprehensive plans and policies in consultation with all the stake-holders to reduce the risk factors,” says Meera Pattabiraman, Chairperson, ARDSI.