As we get older we all experience changes in our physical, mental and sensory abilities. These can be a challenge for us as we are driving.  Occupational Therapists (OT) work with older adults and their families offering individualized assessment related to physical, mental and sensory abilities related to driving.  They can then identify areas that may prove difficult for that individual and offer strategies that can help them stay active, healthy and safe in their communities.  The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)  along with their members aim to promote understanding of the importance of mobility and transportation in keeping older adults shopping, working, volunteering and making sure transportation is not a barrier to strand them at home.

Anticipating changes that can affect driving

Aging is inevitable, and the ability to drive safely can be affected by changes in our physical, mental, emotional and cognitive health. These changes occur differently for everyone.  Just as we plan for retirement it’s important to plan for these changes.

Family conversations

Families come together in December for the various holidays.  AOTA offers tips on how to have a non-threatening conversation regarding driving abilities.

Screening and evaluations with Occupational Therapists

OTs can offer driving evaluations.  They can range from a self-assessment to a more detailed driving evaluation.  Some of these assessments and evaluations are covered by insurance; some are not and must be paid for out of pocket.

Interventions that can empower drivers and families

A driving intervention is based on a plan that is drawn up between you and the OT.  The goal of intervention is to keep you driving as long as possible.

Staying engaged in the community with and without a caregiver

Our friends and families may need to support us when we can no longer drive as much, or at all.  It helps to know what community resources are available to us.

If you have additional questions or want more information, call North Country Hospital Rehabilitation Occupational Therapy Services at 802-334-3260.

Reference:  Older driver safety awareness week.  (2017).  AOTA.  Retrieved from:

https://www.aota.org/Conference-Events/Older-Driver-Safety-Awareness-Week.aspx

 

Submitted by Johanne Champigny, OTR/L, CHT.   Johanne was the first occupational therapist at NCH when she joined the Rehab Team in 1995.  She became certified as a hand therapist in 2015.  She works primarily with outpatients and is also the OT department supervisor.