AOTA Holds "Older Driver Safety Awareness Week"

By Trevor Dorchies | November 30, 2011
Remember when you got your driver's license and the freedom it represented? Now imagine, if you're not there already, when you had to surrender it. For many U.S. senior citizens, that is the harsh reality. As people age, their physical and cognitive abilities fade to the point to make driving dangerous. The American Occupational Therapy Association, though, offers help. The AOTA believes occupational therapy practitioners can properly evaluate a person's ability to operate a motor vehicle and,if someone is deemed truly incapable, offers help him or her adjust to the new lifestyle of not having the freedom to just jump in a car and take off. In honor of making this transition, the AOTA is holding "Older Driver Safety Awareness Week" this December 5th-9th to help people adjust to these changes. Monday, December 5th: Family Conversations Losing a freedom is never easy, and some people take it especially hard once they can't drive anymore. On the first day of AOTA's Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, issues older drivers have are addressed through discussions with their family who play a vital role. Usually a crisis spurs these talks and the AOTA says a professional can also be brought in to help for mediation. If there's no immediate action required, an occupational therapist can help plan ahead for life after driving.
Tuesday, December 6th: Screening/Evaluations Possibly seen as D-Day for those being "judged", older drivers undergo driving fitness evaluations to determine whether or not they will be able to get behind the wheel. These can be done at a doctor's office during a regular check-up. If the outcome isn't what was hoped for, the AOTA states that occupational therapy driving specialists can provide a second opinion. They can suggest solutions such as additional equipment to help drivers pilot their vehicle while on the road. Wednesday, December 7th: Driving Equipment/Adaptations Again, no one wants to stop someone else from driving. Occupational therapists can recommend an array of options to help older drivers such as wide-angle lenses or a left-foot gas pedal. Thursday, December 8th: Taking Changes in Stride It's very hard for a person to see when driving is no longer an option for them. While age isn't always a good indicator of bad driving, studies show that a decrease in physical and other abilities affect driving. The AOTA offers ways to adjust to life after driving through a multitude of avenues such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website as well as other information from AAA. Friday, December 9th: Life After Driving Relinquishing freedom and independence is never an easy thing to accept, generating awkward conversations and rash feelings. It's even harder when you have to start relying on others. Not fun. However, most cities and towns offer public transportation and the AOTA's weeklong event offers ways to discover such transportation. The American Occupational Therapist Association offers many options for both their clients and family membersand events like the Older Driver Safety Awareness Week give hope to both those who may be unfit to drive and their families a peace of mind that there are many alternativesavailable. Do you know someone who has stopped driving? Tell us how they agreed to it in the comment section below. Source: American Occupational Therapist Association