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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2012 Sep;67(9):984-9. doi: 10.1093/gerona/gls133. Epub 2012 Apr 30.

Relation of driving status to incident life space constriction in community-dwelling older persons: a prospective cohort study.

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Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center, Rush University Medical Center, 600 South Paulina, Suite 1022, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.



Maintaining spatial movement through the environment is an important feature of healthy aging. We examined whether being licensed to drive is associated with maintaining spatial movement in older persons initially reporting maximum spatial mobility.


From the Rush Memory and Aging Project, 571 nondemented, community-dwelling older persons were identified with (i) baseline data on driving status, (ii) baseline report of spatial mobility to the largest life space zone, and (iii) at least one annual follow-up evaluation. Incident constriction of life space was the primary outcome of interest.


Over an average follow-up of 4.3 years, 303 participants reported incident constriction of life space. In a proportional hazards model adjusted for age, sex, and education, having a valid driver's license at baseline was associated with a decreased hazard of reporting a life space constriction (hazard ratio = 0.39; 95% confidence interval = 0.29-0.54). Results were unchanged after controlling for number of vascular risk factors and vascular diseases, low visual acuity, social isolation, and gait speed. Of participants reporting incident life space constriction, 188 subsequently reported reexpansion of spatial mobility to the largest zone of life space. Having a valid driver's license was associated with a greater likelihood of life space recovery (hazard ratio = 2.00; 95% confidence interval = 1.27-3.17).


In older persons, having a valid driving license was associated with reduced hazard of reporting life space constriction and a greater likelihood of life space recovery if incident life space constriction occurred.

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