Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is known as a neurodevelopmental disorder that can make you make erratic judgments. According to doctors, you become impulsive or in some cases cannot concentrate on something for even a short period of time. It is commonly seen in kids but it affects the elderly as well.
Recently a study published on the JAMA Network, Motor Vehicle Crash Risk in Older Adult Drivers With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder claims, “active drivers aged 65 to 79 years, the lifetime prevalence of ADHD was 2.6%. Having ADHD was associated with a 7% increased risk of hard-braking events, a 102% increased risk of self-reported traffic ticket events, and a 74% increased risk of self-reported vehicular crashes.” So what are its implications?
According to the statistics, 97 elderly people are involved in a car crash for every 1000 involved. It is safe to assume that seniors are more prone to car accidents and until now the effect of ADHD has never been determined in elderlies. The research took into account over 2000 participants spanning from various counties including Baltimore, San Diego, and Denver. The accidents primarily included cases of sudden brakes, minor car crashes as well and missing signals at traffic stops.
When asked what they aimed to achieve from this study, the researchers believe this specifically points out how many elderly are also affected by ADHD. In 2016 it was 2.6% when compared with other countries like Sweden or The Netherlands. Why is this prevalent?
“In alignment with our results, older adults with ADHD did not show statistically significant differences in sex, income, education, or urban residence compared with their counterparts without ADHD. Our results are consistent with previous reports that anxiety and depression may be closely linked to ADHD.
Although the prevalence of ADHD declines with advancing age, the increased risk of comorbidities, such as anxiety and depression, could contribute to reduced life expectancy in these individuals,” the study points out. Furthermore, the study draws a conclusion that similar to teens, the elderly also overestimate their competence. They don’t think rationally and since the decision-making is impulsive it leads to accidents.
The study conducted by Paulina Baran found, that “ age and driving experience were significant predictors of risk-taking only among the drivers who were aware of the risks on the road. Based on the results, it seems that risk perception should be taken into account when searching for determinants of risk-taking in road traffic.” So if a person has ADHD, they could exhibit many of these characteristics that wouldn’t suit a driver.
For instance, sometimes patience should be key to navigating through busy roads but in elderly individuals, this seemed to be in low levels. Additionally, there are some physical characteristics attributed to a person who is known to have ADHD. They include restlessness, constant movement, impatience, risk-taking, impulsiveness, and physical movement.
When taken into account, this could be multiplied in geriatric drivers. They might have weak muscles short tempers or low vision that makes them all the more susceptible to causing accidents.
To prevent this, there are a few solutions which could be looked into. It is imperative that an elderly with a diagnosed condition shouldn’t be allowed to drive. Moreover, when the elderly are given a car to ride, they should be accompanied by a good driver so that they can avoid collisions.
Additionally, the caregivers should constantly look for symptoms that might point to them not being fit to be on the road. Along with a physical examination, seniors should also be given a mental checkup so that their competency can be truly determined.
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