Seniors and Driving IV: 6 Issues Affecting Safe Driving
Occupational Therapists have long been staunch proponents of helping people maintain or regain independence in their Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). Driving and mobility are vital concerns of occupational engagement. These professionals have expertise in the areas of occupational analysis and performance, clinical reasoning and other studies necessary for addressing driving and mobility. Because of its life-altering consequences, the topic of older drivers, safety, and the possibility of driving cessation is a sensitive issue.
Seniors are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. In the next 25 years, the number of seniors age 65 and older is expected to double. By 2030, approximately 72 million people will be 65 and older. Today, a historic number of people are age 85 or older. Age alone, though, does not determine when a person should retire from driving, but increasing age has been associated with medical illness and disability that can impair one’s safety to drive a car.
Here are a few conditions that can affect one’s ability to drive safely:
*Sensory Impairments-effects the ability to grasp, feel the wheel, and misapplication of the pedals like confusing the break and accelerator.
*Strength-Inability to safely control the wheel, maintain consistent speed or stop the vehicle
*Flexibility-Difficulty turning the head or controlling the wheel. Limited mobility in neck, arms, trunk or legs.
*Coordination-Delay in responding to the position of your vehicle or other vehicles during lane changes or changing traffic conditions.
*Vision-Any visual changes that would impair safety when driving such as cataracts, macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy.
*Cognitive Conditions-Attention, judgement and problem solving, reaction time, planning and sequencing, or lacking emotional control.
Other common conditions that may put a person at risk behind the wheel include pain, decreased strength or a decrease in physical function caused by arthritis, stroke, Parkinson’s, spinal cord injury, amputation and any neurological disorder (such as Multiple Sclerosis).
The role of the occupational therapist is to assess the limitation and determine the need for further evaluation. If there is any doubt of safety behind the wheel the client is referred to a driving specialist.
Seasons 4 Living is owned and operated by a private practicing Occupational Therapist who is a Driving Rehab Specialist. We provide comprehensive clinical testing and behind the wheel evaluation for medically at-risk clients. For the convenience of our clients we are a mobile service and can come right to your door for pick up. We work closely with your physician and therapist to help you make the safest transition back behind the wheel after your illness. Remember that safety is all of our responsibility and it starts with getting behind the wheel. For further information about Seasons for Living visit our website at Driving4independence.com or call us at 832-534-8499.