AOTA Older Driver Safety Awareness Week (Dec. 5—9, 2011) highlights options for safe mobility
Bethesda, MD—Why dedicate a week to older drivers? The concern for their safety and independence is greater now than any time in our history. More than 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day, a trend expected to continue for the next 19 years. And by the year 2040, 1 in 5 Americans will be 70 or older.
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) along with AAA, AARP, The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., and other organizations are raising awareness of ways to keep seniors safe on the road for as long as possible and of resources available to maintain independence if driving is no longer an option, through AOTA’s Older Driver Safety Awareness Week (Dec. 5—9, 2011).
Throughout the week, AOTA will offer resources on different aspects of older driver safety:
- Monday, Dec. 5: Family Conversations
- Tuesday, Dec. 6: Screening and Evaluations
- Wednesday, Dec. 7: Driving Equipment and Adaptations
- Thursday, Dec. 8: Taking Changes in Stride
- Friday, Dec. 9: Life After Driving
Driving conversations between family members should be ongoing and are often initiated around holiday gatherings. Strategies are offered through AOTA’s Web site (www.aota.org/Older-Driver/Awareness.aspx) to help families start these conversations along with options for ways to keep seniors safely on the road. Older Driver Safety Awareness Week national endorsers also have dedicated Web sites providing public and health professionals with useful, timely information: AAA (http://www.seniordriving.aaa.com/), AARP (www.aarp.org/drive) and The Hartford (www.SafeDrivingforaLifetime.com).
Occupational therapy practitioners have the skills to evaluate a person’s overall ability to operate a vehicle safely, provide rehabilitation and adaptations to help the person continue to drive, and provide options for maintaining independence if driving is no longer possible.
“As part of the aging process, some people experience physical, cognitive, and sensory changes that can affect driving,” says Elin Schold Davis, OTR/L, CDRS. “But these changes don’t have to mean giving up the keys. Through an evaluation, drivers can get solutions such as driving equipment and adaptations that allow them to stay on the road safely and confidently. If driving is no longer an option, an occupational therapist can provide individualized services to maintain community mobility and independence.”
Want to interview an OT or other expert on older driver safety and independence? Please call AOTA Media Relations Manager Katie Riley, 301-652-6611, ext. 2963 to interview AOTA driving expert Elin Schold Davis, OTR/L, CDRS. Representatives with the national endorsers can be reached at the following: AAA National Office—Nancy White, Director, Public Relations, 202-942-2079; AARP—Nancy Thompson, Senior Media Relations Manager, 202-434-2667; The Hartford—Debora Raymond, External Communications Director—Consumer Markets, 860-843-1984.
Founded in 1917, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) represents the professional interests and concerns of more than 140,000 occupational therapists, assistants, and students nationwide. The Association educates the public and advances the profession of occupational therapy by providing resources, setting standards including accreditations, and serving as an advocate to improve health care. Based in Bethesda, Md., AOTA’s major programs and activities are directed toward promoting the professional development of its members and assuring consumer access to quality services so patients can maximize their individual potential. For more information, go to www.aota.org.