Critter Corner: How Can You Get a Professional Evaluation of a Senior Loved One’s Driving?

Dear Hayek,

My mother and I are concerned about my father’s ability to continue driving. He is confident, however, that he should still be on the road. He even offered to be evaluated by a professional. How do you go about doing so in Virginia? Does Medicare pay for driver evaluations?

Thanks for your help,

Val Yuatum

Dear Val,

As you are aware, aging can affect a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Thankfully, Virginia offers professional evaluations of a senior’s driving ability, and has many centers throughout the state to do so.
A comprehensive driving evaluation is a good way to get answers to questions that you and your mother have about your father’s ability to continue to drive safely. A comprehensive driving evaluation can also be used to evaluate a person’s readiness to resume driving if they have previously stopped.

Why Get a Senior Driver Evaluation?

For those who feel that their driving continues to be fine, but their families believe otherwise, they may appreciate having their opinion seconded by a professional with the background and experience to verify their confidence. If a loved one is “feeling their age,” however, and not seeing or hearing quite as well as he or she once did, experiencing slowed reaction time, or a loss of flexibility, he or she may benefit from knowing whether or how much these changes may affect his or her ability to drive safely. He or she may also learn new strategies or tips to keep his or her driving skills sharp.

Who Performs the Evaluation?

An occupational therapist with specialized training in driving evaluation can perform the evaluation. These specially trained occupational therapists are qualified to offer services to evaluate your loved ones driving, and to involve a team of professionals required to address his or her individual needs. They will either work with your loved one to develop a plan to continue driving – or prepare your loved one to transition from driver to passenger when the time comes.

Following an evaluation, therapeutic intervention to improve driving skills may be recommended and provided. Adaptive driving equipment may also be recommended to improve or maintain driving capabilities. A helpful guide from The Hartford explains the evaluation process further.

Maryland and DC Also Offer These Services

In Maryland, visit http://www.mva.maryland.gov/safety/older/driver-self-assessment-tools.htm.
In DC, visit https://dmv.dc.gov/service/driver-testing.

Does Medicare Pay for Driver Evaluations?

Medicare covers occupational therapy evaluations and interventions provided after an illness or injury. However, not all of the services that a senior receives as part of a specialty driving program or the method of delivery would be covered under Medicare guidelines. Be sure to check with the evaluation provider and/or Medicare for more details.

Hope this is helpful,

Hayek

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