The next time you don’t feel like driving, think twice. According to a new study at Columbia University, driving is effective in keeping dementia at bay as it helps the driver remain alert, which in turn prevents cognitive degeneration.
As per a report in the Mirror, the study states that driving gives people a feeling of self-control, personal freedom and independence. The research adds that driving is especially beneficial for older adults as it plays a role in driving away symptoms of dementia. Another advantage is that driving may delay physical signs of aging.
“For many older adults, driving is instrumental to their daily living and is a strong indicator of self-control, personal freedom and independence,” said Prof. Guohua Li of the Columbia University.
According to a 2015 report of Alzheimer Disease International, dementia, which is related to memory decline, affects over 3 million people over the age of 65 in the United States every year.
Another report released in 2015 by Statistia revealed that incidences of dementia increase with age. It observed 3.8 incidences per 1,000 people in the age group of 60-64 years and up to 112 per 1,000 for people over 90 years.
For retired senior citizens who do not have access to good public transport system, driving can be a good means of staying active, the new study said, adding that discontinuation of driving in older people can trigger the onset of depression and other mental and physical health problems. Poor eyesight can be a reason for saying no to driving. “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,” said Li.
Dementia – facts
A research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association’s Annual Conference in Washington in 2015 showed that dementia is gender specific. It said women face a higher chance of developing dementia than men and mental degeneration occurs at a faster rate in women.
According to the Telegraph report on the research, the U.S. scientists found that “women suffering from mild cognitive impairment, which is a forerunner to dementia, appear to go downhill at twice the rate as men.” The eesearchers also found that women are more prone to get dementia. “At the age of 65, women have a one in six chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared with a 1 in 11 chance for men,” it said.
The most common kind of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease when a person loses brain cells which results in brain shrinking. Dementia is also associated with diseases in which the brain cells degenerate and die more quickly.
Early diagnosis can help overcome the problems. However, it has been found that the majority of people with dementia do not prefer to go to a doctor. According to a study at University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, 55 percent of people with dementia had never visited a doctor with their complaints.
“These results suggest that approximately 1.8 million Americans over the age of 70 with dementia have never had an evaluation of their cognitive abilities. Early evaluation and identification of people with dementia may help them receive care earlier,” said study author Vikas Kotagal, M.D., M.S., of the University of Michigan Health System. The study was published online in the Neurology in 2014.
One needs to be alert to understand the symptoms of dementia and ensure proper treatment at the right time. If you or your loved one is battling any form of mental illness, Sovereign Mental Health Services is there to help you. Call our 24/7 helpline at 866-954-0529 for further information. We are a residential rehabilitation treatment provider having programs and services devoted to various mental health conditions.