Providing personal care and assistance for another person usually involves many hours of driving. Trips to the doctor, the pharmacy or even errand runs rack up the miles quickly. When a person is responsible for their own needs and the needs of another, the resulting stress adds a complexity that can be overwhelming. For this reason, it is important to have the right vehicle. When shopping for a car, van or other type of vehicle, caregivers should think about a few important considerations.
If people with limited mobility will be frequent passengers in the vehicle, it is important to choose one that is easy to enter and exit. For example, a woman who cares for her tall handicapped husband would find a van with a chair lift easier to use than a standard car. Car transfers involve stooping and awkward transfer positions. If vans or SUVs do not have chair lifts, it may be difficult to boost a person up to seat levels. If a special handicapped vehicle is not an option, consider purchasing a crossover. They sit higher than cars but lower than SUVs. Be sure to select a vehicle with plenty of foot room.
When caregivers travel with the people they take care of, there are usually many extra items to bring along. Oxygen tanks, special medical equipment and mobility aids are all items that take up plenty of space. Be sure to purchase a vehicle that has enough room to hold suitcases, medical equipment and other belongings. However, the items being stored should not compromise foot room and comfort space. This is another area where crossovers beat regular cars. They have seats that fold down, and there is plenty of room to store equipment in the back. Trunks or doors that open with remotes are also beneficial features to look for.
Technology & Safety Features
With the right interior technology, a vehicle can make life on the road much easier for a caregiver. Something as simple as a multi-disc changer for an irritable passenger who feels the need to change CDs frequently may help the driver stay focused. However, there are also more practical features. For example, some vehicles feature a special communication service, which connects drivers to emergency medical help with the simple push of a button. Hands-free calling systems allow drivers to make important calls without the danger of holding a phone while driving. Navigation systems are also very helpful. This is especially true for caregivers who live in big cities or travel out of town regularly. They help drivers find pharmacies, hospitals, specific addresses or even coffee shops. If a car does not have a navigation system, it is still possible to purchase a portable GPS for an affordable price. For those who will be traveling with children or distracted passengers, a rear-seat DVD system is a good idea.
With the unsteady and ever-increasing cost of fuel, it is important to purchase a vehicle that will use it efficiently. Many caregivers are surprised at how much money they can save each month by simply purchasing a car that gets 10 to 20 miles more per gallon on the highway than their current vehicles.
Ramps and other additions should also be considered. Although a person’s current mobility status may be fair, it is important to think about the next few years. Will that person be likely to require a wheelchair? Think carefully about features before driving off the lot. Caregivers also deserve a treat, so it is good for them to choose a few additional features they prefer. Volume control buttons on the steering wheel, heated seats or other luxuries may make the caregiver feel more comfortable. Since their natural instinct is to look out for others, caregivers often forget to do something nice for themselves. It is also important to choose a vehicle that is affordable to insure. To find out which options are best, discuss them with an agent.