10-17-13, TAMPA, FL – With the goal of keeping seniors safe on the roads and in their homes, experts staged training programs to provide older Americans tools to age in place. Older adult drivers lined up their vehicles at the Town ‘N Country Senior Center in Tampa to take part in CarFit, an innovative national program created by the San Francisco-based American Society on Aging and developed in collaboration with AAA (American Automobile Association), AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association. CarFit is designed to give a quick comprehensive check on how well an older driver and their vehicle work together. The event also provided motorists with community traffic safety resources intended to keep them driving safely longer. Following CarFit, AARP provided a Home Fit program which provided the attendees with tips on how to improve their homes to make them safer and more accessible.
At today’s CarFit event, trained volunteers completed a 12-point checklist with each driver.
After visiting the trained volunteer professional, the driver consulted with an occupational therapist who, if needed, discussed ways drivers can maintain and improve aspects related to their driving health. The therapists also provided information to participants addressing individual needs, including information about local community resources on exercise, nutrition and other programs to help keep them safe on the road.
Immediately following the CarFit event, AARP conducted a Home Fit program. The Home Fit program and Home Fit guide were developed after AARP conducted a survey in 2010 which found that nearly 90% of people 45+ would prefer to remain in their home and their community for as long as possible. Home Fit seeks to make that a reality, and provides tips so older adults can make their homes more accessible.
“It’s important for many Americans to maintain their lifestyles, and a big part of that is staying in their homes and driving their own cars,” said AARP Florida spokesperson Laura Cantwell. “Our goal is to ensure their homes and cars fit their needs so they can do just that.”
Participants were given a checklist to assess their homes. Factors such as lighting, mobility, and energy were addressed, and attendees were given easy ideas to create better living spaces. Some suggestions included removing rugs which are easy to trip over, installing handrails on stairs and in bathrooms, and adding more lighting both inside and outside.
The Home Fit guide takes readers through a room-by-room analysis and offers improvement ideas to make these areas safer and more accessible. For example, in the bathroom it’s suggested that homeowners use non-skid bathmats on the bathtub or shower floor so they won’t slip. It’s also suggested to get rubber-backed rugs for the bathroom floor for the same reason. For homeowners who have problems sitting down and standing up, it suggests installing a toilet seat riser or a higher comfort height toilet. Making these simple changes will help homeowners reduce the risk of falling when they’re home alone.
“Safety is the first priority,” said Cantwell. “Those who attended today’s events now have the tools to drive safely and live safely. They’ll be better able to assess the risks in their cars and homes and take the necessary steps to prevent them.”