Older adults who participate in brain training designed to improve cognitive ability are more likely to continue driving over the next 10 years than those who do not, according to health researchers.
Carried out by researchers from Penn State University, the team looked at over 2,000 healthy adults aged 65 or older who were all driving at the beginning of the study.
‘Driving cessation has huge ramifications for seniors. It signals an end to freedom, acting as a concrete acknowledgement that you're declining.’
To assess the effects of the different cognitive training programs on driving cessation, participants were randomly assigned to one of four groups -- reasoning, memory, divided attention training or no training.
"Driving cessation has huge ramifications for seniors," said Lesley A. Ross, Penn State assistant professor of human development and family studies. "It signals an end to freedom, acting as a concrete acknowledgement that you're declining."
Ross and colleagues studied the effects of three different cognitive training programs -- reasoning, memory and divided attention -- on driving cessation in older adults.
The researchers found that the participants who completed either the reasoning or divided-attention training were between 49 and 55 percent more likely to still be drivers 10 years after the study began than those who did not receive training. Randomly selected participants who received additional divided-attention training were 70 percent more likely to report still driving after 10 years. The researchers report their results in the current issue of The Gerontologist.
Previous studies have also demonstrated the importance of driving in old age, with a study published earlier this year showing that giving up driving resulted in a 51% reduction in the size of senior's social circles, nearly doubled the risk of developing depressive symptoms, and was associated with being nearly five times as likely to be admitted to a form of care home.