Sherry Kolodziejczak was recently appointed AARP Alabama’s statewide Driver Safety coordinator, a position for which she is professionally well-qualified, but for which she is perfect because of her common-sense approach to aging with independence.
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As the state coordinator, Kolodziejczak will oversee the dozens of Driver Safety courses held in Alabama each year through which older drivers refresh driving skills.
The Huntsville occupational therapist was drawn to working with older adults as a student, and her dedication to them led her to volunteer on their behalf.
“I saw patients who exhibited confusion in the hospital setting who were being treated as though they were suffering from age-related memory loss.
“I asked if I could visit them at home because I thought the situation would be completely different when the patients were in their homes,” Kolodziejczak said.
She was right. These patients exhibited no confusion in comfortable and familiar surroundings. It was during these home visits she realized there were things she could do to make their homes safer and more comfortable, allowing them to remain independent and live in their homes longer.
“Too often, their homes were dark, and there were throw rugs on the floor. A dark room and a throw rug is a recipe for disaster. Many of the patients we see who have fallen in their homes tripped on a throw rug,” Kolodziejczak said.
“It costs nothing to open windows to let in more light, and it makes the home safer,” she said.
From the home setting, it was only natural Kolodziejczak would turn her attention to their automobiles.
“Transportation plays such a huge role in remaining independent, it made sense to look at people’s cars in the same way I looked at their homes,” she said.
That desire lead Kolodziejczak to volunteer with the AARP Carfit program, which offers a free evaluation for drivers and recommendations to make driving safer and more comfortable. She was the Alabama's CarFit coordinator when she was appointed Driver Safety state coordinator.
Kolodziejczak manages these volunteer duties on top of being the director of therapy services at Crestwood Therapy Services and Sports Care in Huntsville. Prior to that, she was the senior occupational therapist/clinical coordinator at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from Eastern Michigan University and a master’s degree in occupational therapy from Boston University.