Your aging parent, relative or friend deserves the freedom and mobility to travel across the country or around town. If your loved one needs a wheelchair, travel can be challenging. The following tools and tips can help you find convenient ways to travel with minimal fuss and maximum comfort.
Traveling with a Wheelchair
Wheelchair technology has come a long way; many modern chairs weigh as little as 19 pounds. While they are lighter than ever, you might still face challenges when transporting your family member and her chair. After reaching the vehicle, you might need to help your relative transfer to the car, after which you need to disassemble and stow the chair. Upon arrival at your destination, the chair must be put back together and everyone navigated inside the doctor’s office, shopping mall or a friend’s home. Despite the increases in wheelchair accessibility, getting around can still pose a problem.
The repeated action of moving a wheelchair in and out of a vehicle can aggravate previous injuries or create new ones. Bad weather like rain or snow increases the difficulty of the task. Despite months or years of practice, it still takes time to disassemble and reassemble a chair; performing the task quickly becomes even more important during an emergency situation. Instead of struggling to maneuver the wheelchair in and out of your vehicle, purchase a van that is equipped to handle the task.
A variety of vans can be fitted with a rear or side ramp or a lift for your convenience. The chair easily wheels into the van before you safely secure it into place. Using a handicap van makes your job easier and gives your loved one the additional mobility she craves.
Whether you choose to purchase a van already equipped with a ramp or install a ramp on an existing vehicle, you will appreciate the convenience. Certified technicians ensure the van remains safe for travel and, as they would with any other car, repair any mechanical issues that might arise. An accessible van gives you peace of mind as you travel with your loved one.
Freedom to Hit the Open Road
A handicap van opens up a world of possibilities. Visiting a childhood hometown or touring historical sites with a van full of family members or friends is a little easier. Not having to assemble and disassemble a chair at every stop can make a trip more enjoyable and create an overall feeling of excitement and anticipation.
Remember to ensure your family member or friend’s safety and comfort. Start with a tuned vehicle. Inspect the ramp, tires, engine and vehicle’s fluids. After the van is ready to hit the road, turn your attention to packing items that provide comfort for the duration of your trip.
Prolonged stints sitting in a wheelchair can cause strains and injuries, especially for seniors. Be sure to pack pillows and blankets that protect the body while also providing comfort. Seat cushions protect fragile spines and provide proper posture while preventing sore muscles or other injuries. Footrest extensions promote good circulation and proper posture. Extra padding from a seat cushion provides incontinence support and prevents ulcers throughout the trip. These and other cushioning options enhance comfort and make the trip more pleasant.
To keep your costs low and make your trip as convenient as possible, be sure to pack plenty of snacks and beverages. Water is necessary to stay hydrated, especially if you travel during the summer. Pay attention to your parent or friend’s special dietary needs as well. Fast food often upsets sensitive stomachs and adds calories and fat you can avoid by packing healthy snacks. Having a selection of items to nibble on will also come in handy if your loved one needs to take medications regularly.
Pay attention to your friend or parent’s need for regular breaks. Constant travel in a vehicle or sightseeing tours can be tiring. Build rest and relaxation into your schedule. Keep in mind that a loved one may hesitate to discuss her needs, especially if everyone is having fun. Keep a close eye on her and notice when she shows signs of fatigue. Download audiobooks, bring puzzle books or play card games to provide a distraction during rest stops. Don’t forget the sunscreen and gloves if you’ll be traveling during the summer. Though gloves may seem counterintuitive to elevated temperatures, a metal wheelchair quickly becomes hot and you’ll be thankful for the protection from the sun.
A handicap van gives you as the caregiver and your loved one the freedom and mobility you need. Traveling around town or across the country can be easier than ever with a vehicle built to accommodate a wheelchair. Enjoy the convenience of traveling in comfort, safety and convenience from behind the wheel of a customized vehicle.