Q: My mother fell recently, and, since her fall, I have noticed that she’s more hesitant about driving. Could this be related to her fall, and can you provide information about alternative transportation since she’s driving less often?
Answer: There is a possible connection between your mother’s recent fall and her hesitancy about driving. A research study conducted by students at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) may be able to help.
The American Geriatrics Society reports that falls may lower our ability to drive safely as we age for a couple of reasons. A fall can impact an older adult’s physical and mental well-being. Physically, a fall may cause an injury that could limit mobility while steering and operating a vehicle. Once a person falls, they may also start to limit their physical activity and range of motion out of fear that they will fall again.
Not moving the body as much can cause it to weaken, which may also affect how a person moves and operates a vehicle. Mentally, an older adult may experience increased fear and anxiety as the result of a fall. This may cause them to change how they drive. The underlying factors that initially led to the fall, such as problems with vision or balance, can also increase difficulty with driving.
Winston-Salem State University is currently conducting a study for adults aged 65 and older related to community mobility, which will also include questions related to driving and fall prevention.