On-the-road assessments available for older drivers

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On-the-road assessments available for older drivers

Sun, 12/03/2017 - 4:05am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Older Driver Safety Awareness Week (Dec. 4-8) reminds drivers and families that resources are available regarding driving in the aging population. It’s a fact of life that individuals experience physical and mental changes with age, sometimes so minor they may not even be noticed. But older adults can also experience other changes, such as slower reaction times, night blindness or pain and stiffness, which can affect driving skills.

Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC) offers comprehensive clinical assessments for those who may be at high risk for an automobile crash. The process for this assessment typically involves the following steps:

  1. An occupational therapist, trained in the clinical driver evaluation, determines the effects of one’s medical condition, medication needs and the functional limitations they may present on the road;
  2. A client attends both the clinical and on-road assessment with another licensed driver who may act as a coach;
  3. The evaluation involves visual screening, standardized assessments of cognition and memory, range of motion, muscle strength and sensation, and visual perceptual skills.

Appropriate patients to refer for assessments are experienced drivers who have a valid driving license, with a referral from their physician, who may have a condition that affects their cognitive/decision-making skills such as traumatic brain injury, stroke or cerebral vascular accident, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, dementia and mild cognitive impairment.

During Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, the American Occupational Therapy Association is providing helpful information on the following topics to help ease families through the process:

  • Tips for planning ahead in order to anticipate changes that can affect driving;
  • Talking points for guiding family conversations;
  • The role occupational therapy can play in evaluating drivers;
  • Equipment that can help an individual drive safely for as long as possible;
  • Community resources typically available to help seniors no longer able to drive stay mobile.

Visit AARP’s website for more safety tips and driving resources, or contact CVMC’s Rehabilitation Services, 1311 Barre-Montpelier Road, Berlin, at 802-371-4242 to learn more about driver assessments.