Relating Impaired Cognition and Depression in Older Adult Drivers

Monday, July 11, 2011

Debra Jenkins, RN, MSN
Mennonite College of Nursing, Illinois State University, Normal, IL
Ezra C. Holston, PhD, MSN, RN
Mennonite College of Nursing & School of Biological Sciences, Illinois State University, Normal, IL

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to understand the impact of depression in community older adult drivers.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to understand the impact of depression on cognition in community older adult adrivers.

Purpose: Automobile accidents are the 2nd leading cause of injury in older adults, escalating with age. These accidents can be related to diminish cognition (visuospatial, attention, and mental flexibility) that may be undetected and/or undiagnosed. Cognition may be impacted by depression and/or depressive symptoms in older adult drivers. This impact has contributed to the prevalence of depression in this population. Interestingly, depression has been attributed to normal aging, resulting in depression and decreased driving skills from diminished cognition, which is unrecognized and untreated. However, few studies if any have examined the relationship between depression and diminished cognition and its impact on driving skills of older adults. Therefore, the purpose of this retrospective study is to (1) describe the cognition and depressive symptoms in older adult drivers and (2) determine the impact of cognition and depressive symptoms on the driving skills of older adults, aged 50+ and living in Central IL.     

 Theoretical Framework: The CHOICE model is used as the framework. It conceptualizes the choice to either retire or continue to drive that involves cognition such as visuospatial, attention, and mental flexibility in this decision-making process.


Subjects: This retrospective study used a correlational design with data from an urban hospital’s medical records for a convenience sample of 100 community-dwelling older adults age 50+.  

Methods and Results: Participants were measured with the Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE), the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (R-BANS), the Trail Making Tests A and B, and the Geriatric Depression Scale.  Data will be analyzed with descriptive statistics, Pearson coefficient correlation, student t-test, and linear bivariate regression, with an alpha of .05


 Research is currently in progress


This study is foundational in understanding how depression influences older adults’ decision to retire from driving without minimizing their sense of health within their environment.