Between the years 2000 and 2010, the number of people in the United States who were 65 years of age or older increased by 15.1%, a rate of growth that exceeded that of the total population’s rate.
Currently, there are more than 55 million Americans who are 65 and older. By 2030, there will be 70 million. Recent brain training study seems to reduce accidents in elderly people.
The current age of the baby boom cohort means a corresponding increase in the number of older drivers on the roads, and driving data on older adults bring important considerations.
In 2017, 7,700 adults aged 65 and over were killed in automobile accidents.
Hazards for a senior driving population can relate to physical health status and associated therapies. Older adults are more likely to have medical conditions that can interfere with driving, and four out of five take medications that can also impair driving judgment and ability.
Such hazards can also relate to visual and cognitive skills that often decline with age. A 2010 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that the preventive measure of cognitive training could minimize such changes, improving mobility and safety for seniors and overall conditions for drivers of any age.
Authors from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of South Florida conducted a randomized controlled multi-center clinical trial that investigated the effects of cognitive training sessions on subsequent traffic incidents in a population of drivers aged 65 and over.
The Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) study enrolled 908 seniors with a median age of 73.1 across four US states. The drivers participated in up to ten sessions of training to sharpen skills related to memory, speed of mental processing and cognitive reasoning. Prior studies have been associated with on-road driving safety, but whether the training that involved strategies such as mnemonics, pattern recognition, and visual identification could actually reduce motor vehicle collisions in a senior population had not been demonstrated.
State records of motor vehicle collisions showed that in the six years following the study’s intervention, participants who received a speed of processing or cognitive reasoning training were involved in fewer accidents than those who received memory training or who were in the study control group.
Specifically, in the six-year follow-up period, the speed of processing and cognitive reasoning participants were involved in approximately 50% fewer at-fault collisions.
The ACTIVE study holds important implications for a rapidly aging population. Safety in independent mobility is an important concern, and the data suggest that certain kinds of mental training may offer a cost-efficient preventive measure.
Rather than screening older adults for whether they can meet safety measures, the findings suggest that preventive measures could be instilled for all driving adults of a certain age range before signs of decline become evident.
Research efforts such as these are essential for the long-term safety of vulnerable patient cohorts. QuesGen Systems brings decades of experience in study design and data capture and curation, counting authors from some of the world’s leading institutions among its partners.
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