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Not driving gives elderly women the blues

AAP logoAAP 25/09/2016

Elderly women who stop driving become more vulnerable to depression because it leaves them socially isolated, Australian researchers have concluded.

The University of Queensland's School of Psychology studied 4000 women aged in their late 70s and 80s over nine years, finding the women who stopped driving reported poorer mental health compared to those who stayed behind the wheel.

Those who hung up their keys but maintained social contacts and involvement in activities such as going to events or playing cards, however, reported better mental wellbeing.

"There's a sense of losing control and independence when you stop driving so it's important to have social support and take action to put alternatives in place before you or a loved one has to stop," Professor Nancy Pachana said.

Steps to reduce social isolation can include talking to neighbours, regular phone calls, being active on the internet, learning the public transport system, taking advantage of courtesy bus systems or car-pooling with friends and family.

Australian readers seeking support and information about depression can contact the Depression Helpline (from 8am to midnight) on 0800 111 757.

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