BETHESDA, Md. — The morning news show “TODAY” highlighted the issue of senior driver safety in a report featuring Linda McCumber, an occupational therapist (OT) from Albany, N.Y., and her mother, Alma Raab from Long Island, N.Y. Together, the two are addressing the proper actions that will enable Alma to keep driving safely as she gets older.
“My work as an occupational therapist gives me special insight into the aging process,” said McCumber. “My mother would often drive from her home on Long Island to visit me, but the aging process was making the drive more difficult. I knew that there were steps we could take that would enable her to continue driving safely.”
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) in conjunction with National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the Centers for Disease Control is promoting OT interventions for older drivers.
Occupational therapists have the science-based knowledge to understand progressive conditions and life changes that can affect driving and are able to help individuals make a smoother transition from driving to using other forms of transportation. In doing so, OTs help people maintain their autonomy, independence and sense of worth.
After evaluating older adults to determine physical, visual or cognitive limitations that could affect driving ability, occupational therapists can address safety by taking the following steps:
- Conduct an on-the-road driving test to determine how problems identified in an evaluation affect a person’s ability to drive safely.
- Provide training to drivers that improves their ability to drive safely.
- Recommend adaptive equipment and train older drivers on how to use the equipment to help them continue to drive and get around safely.
- Help identify alternate forms of transportation, such as public transportation, if it becomes clear that the client should no longer drive or should modify when they drive.
- Assist in identifying meaningful activities that do not require driving if necessary.
For more information on older driver safety, visit www.aota.org/olderdriver.