The Census Bureau reports there will be 9.6 million people 85 and older by 2030, up 73% from today. With increasing age comes changes in physical, mental, and sensory abilities that can challenge a person’s continued ability to drive safely—but there are a variety of options for safe mobility for people of all ages.
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), Bethesda, Md, seeks to raise awareness and increase education across the country through Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, from December 6 to 12.
“The real need is a broader awareness of the solutions, rather than a narrow focus on the problem,” said Elin Schold-Davis, AOTA’s Older Driver Initiative coordinator, in a statement released by the organization.
The goal of Older Driver Safety Awareness Week is to increase safety by informing the public that the aging driver has options. Education, evaluation, modifications, and training are available from many sources, including occupational therapy. Empowered with information, facts, and strategies, people nationwide can facilitate the safety of our aging neighbors, says AOTA.
Older Driver Safety Awareness Week aims to promote understanding of the importance of mobility and transportation to ensuring older adults remain active in the community—shopping, working, or volunteering—with the confidence that transportation will not be the barrier to strand them at home.
AOTA says occupational therapy practitioners have the skills to evaluate a person’s overall ability to operate a vehicle safely and provide rehabilitation, if necessary. Many are specially trained in the full scope of driving rehabilitation. Occupational therapy practitioners work with older adults, their families, and caregivers, offering individualized assessment, identifying individuals’ unique challenges, and finding strategies that will help them live life to its fullest by keeping them active, healthy, and safe in their communities.
Throughout the week, AOTA will bring attention to a different aspect of older driver safety:
• Monday, December 7: Family conversations
• Tuesday, December 8: Screening/evaluations
• Wednesday, December 9: Driving equipment/adaptations
• Thursday, December 10: Taking changes in stride
• Friday, December 11: Life after driving
AAA, AARP, American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, American Public Transportation Association, Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists, Easter Seals Project ACTION, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, National Center on Senior Transportation, and The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc have endorsed Older Driver Safety Awareness Week.
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