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AOTA Launches Older Driver Safety Awareness Week

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The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. has set Older Driver Safety Awareness Week for Dec. 3-7. During the campaign different safety issues and concerns that impact older drivers will be highlighted each day.

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Monday will focus on how to plan for changes that age creates.

“As part of the aging process, some people experience physical, cognitive, and sensory changes that can affect driving. Medical advancements have more people living longer and able to age in their homes,” said Elin Schold Davis, OTR/L, CDRS, project coordinator for AOTA’s Older Driver Initiative. “When an ache or pain begins hindering driving ability, many older drivers are able to continue driving safely after making a few adjustments.”

Tuesday will talk about non-confrontational and proactive conversations family members of older drivers need to have in order to keep them safely driving or handle the prospect of not driving.

“Everyone is different, and the solutions need to be custom designed for each individual,” explains Mary Jo McGuire, MS, OTR/L, OTPP, FAOTA.

Wednesday will focus on assessments for older drivers from an occupational therapist, who can help determine driving fitness.

“Driving evaluations by occupational therapists are necessary for individuals living with medical conditions that may affect the skills required for driving,” says Anne Dickerson, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA. “Driving school instructors are trained to address and focus on the rules of the road and the safe control of the vehicle, but not the medical condition faced by the senior driver. Select an occupational therapy practitioner who is trained and/or certified as a driving rehabilitation specialist [CDRS, or SCDCM] if the driver is concerned with the effect of his or her medical condition on driving safety.”

Thursday will be about formulating a plan with a therapist to help an older driver keep driving. By employing adaptive equipment such as hand controls, OnStar, swing-out seat, foot pedal extensions, or low-effort steering, older drivers may be able to retain their driving independence.

“Through an evaluation, drivers can get solutions such as driving equipment and adaptations that provide them with the support they require to stay on the road safety and confidently,” says Elin Schold Davis, OTR/L, CDRS.

Friday will discuss how to help older drivers, who can no longer drive, remain engaged in the community by seeking out alternate transportation methods.

“We need to work with the whole system — the client, family and friends, and community resources — to help identify ways that older adults can maintain their participation in activities outside of the home without driving,” said Peggy Barco, MS, BSW, OTR/L.

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News Source: AOTA®