The Americal Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. (AOTA) Older Driver Safety Awareness Week seeks to raise awareness and increase education about the aging driver’s options. Each day of the week, AOTA spotlights a different aspect of older driver safety. We will be sharing this information each day this week.
Friday: Taking Changes in Stride
When an older driver discovers the need to make adjustments to drive safely or can no longer do so, families and friends can help him or her take these changes in stride. But to do so, the older driver and the family need to know about resources for independent community mobility before driving cessation occurs.
Losing one’s ability to drive, limiting the amount of driving, or changing the way one drives does not have to mean losing independence, and older adults have options to continue to stay involved in their communities. They can consider trading favors in exchange for rides from friends, family members, and neighbors; they can take advantage of grocery stores, places of worship, and other organizations that provide transportation or delivery services; and they can explore public transportation, volunteer driver programs, paratransit resources, and taxi services. Occupational therapy practitioners can help older adults determine which options are best, based on physical and cognitive demands (e.g., can the older adult walk to the bus, coordinate complex transit schedules, etc.?) and affordability, and focus on ways to overcome any barriers.
Occupational therapy emphasizes finding ways to help older adults participate in activities and occupations and helping to remove barriers to community mobility. Without driving, individuals can be at risk for social isolation and depression, which makes participation in the community an essential component of living life to its fullest.
- AOTA’s Taking Changes in Stride article
- Tip sheets: AOTA tips sheets for older drivers, Driving Safely as You Age and for families and friends of older drivers, Keeping Older Drivers Safe on the Road.
- AOTA’s Driver Safety site: Getting Help—Community Mobility
- Choices for community mobility: Eldercare’s “Transportation Options for Older Adults” brochure.
- Connect with local aging agencies: The Eldercare Locator brochure.
- Free documentary on older driver safety: Watch Love of Car: Transportation as We Age online or order a DVD.
- Creating “walkable” communities: AARP’s Create the Good tool offers a sidewalks and street survey designed for communities—make walking safer by improving the “walkability” in your community.