Methods: The baseline sample was recruited from community-based older adults, age 55+ (mean age =74.8 years), with varying levels of functional vision problems (n=381). Data were collected via in-depth interviews at baseline and at 6, 12, 18, and 24 month follow-ups. This paper presents preliminary results from the 1-year follow-up, at which time 17% of the 204 participants to date had stopped driving. Hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to identify: 1) significant correlates of baseline depression; and 2) baseline predictors of change in depression from baseline to Year 1. Depression was measured with the 20-item CES-D.
Results: At baseline, the mean CES-D score was 8.4 (SD 9.2) and 16.8% scored at 16 or greater, indicating clinically significant depressive symptomatology. Greater depression was independently associated with younger age, more functional vision problems (p=.074), having ADL difficulty, lower autonomy values, lower self-regulatory coping, lower perceived emotional support from family/friends, not living with another driver, and using more forms of alternate transportation (total R2=.40). Self-regulatory driving behaviors were not significantly related to depressive symptoms in the multivariate analyses. At Year 1, the mean CES-D score was 8.1 (SD 8.6) and 15.4% scored at 16 or higher. An increase in depression from baseline to Year 1 was significantly predicted by baseline depression, older age, having ADL difficulty, rating oneself as a poorer driver (p=.06), lower perceived emotional support from family/friends (p=.06), and being an ex-driver (total R2=.57).
Conclusions and Implications: Older adults who stop driving are at greater risk for increased depression within the year following driving cessation. Findings highlight the importance of developing services to both prevent and treat the mental health consequences of driving cessation.