Long-Term Care Facilities Are Haven for Old Grounded Drivers

July 20, 2006

BALTIMORE -- When older drivers turn in their car keys, the exchange may be a one-way ticket to institutional living, according to researchers here.

BALTIMORE, July 20 -- When older drivers turn in their car keys, the exchange may be a one-way ticket to institutional living, according to researchers here.

A study of 1,593 older adults found that the likelihood of entering a long-term care institution was almost five-times higher for former drivers and more than three times higher for never drivers than for seniors who retained their driving privileges.

Adults ages 65 to 84 who live in households where no one drives also have a 72% higher risk of entering a long-term care facility, (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.72; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.15, 2.57), reported Ellen E. Freeman, Ph.D., and colleagues, of the Wilmer Eye Institute and Bloomberg School of Public Health of Johns Hopkins in the American Journal of Public Health.

Of the 1,347 participants who said they were driving at baseline, 299 stopped driving during 10 years of follow-up, they said.

Kaplan-Meier time-to-event curves show that former and never drivers had a significantly shorter time to long-term care facility entry (P

The participants entered the Salisbury Eye Evaluation cohort study in 1993 and 1995. At baseline participants completed a home survey and medical examination and then were followed at two, six, and eight years after baseline.

This study was based on data collected in a telephone survey about driving status in conducted in the summer of 2003. At baseline participants completed a home survey and medical examination.

Nursing home entry data were obtained by either self or proxy report. Sixty-nine percent of the 2003 survey responses were from the participants and 31% from proxies.

At baseline, 1,347 participants were current drivers, 160 were former drivers, and 86 were never drivers. The mean age of current drivers was 73 and the mean for both former and never drivers was 75, which was significant at P=0.05 or less.

Also at baseline 53% of the current drivers were women, as were 66% of the former drivers and 97% of the never drivers. The gender difference was significant for both former and never drivers (P