If it had been a skit on a television show, it might have been amusing. It wasn’t. We were trying to get a wheelchair folded up and fit it into the trunk of a Thunderbird. This is not an easy thing to do, and the person who did it for me had to take it apart. I wasn’t able to fully reassemble it at our destination. Now I know, do not use the T-bird when transporting our elder if she needs a wheelchair.
There are three categories of transportation that might be used by an elder with mobility problems. Private vehicles, such as my T-bird, public transportation and van transport/ambulances. Here are some tips for all three.
Ease of entry/exit: This is another reason we will probably not be using the Thunderbird again. It is a two door vehicle that sits rather low to the ground. It makes getting in and out of it hard, especially for those with mobility issues. We almost have to lift our elder in order to get her legs in without injuring her. You’ll also want to consider this when it comes to taller vehicles. Climbing in and out isn’t easy.
Equipment storage: I can fit her walker into my trunk fairly easily. The wheelchair isn’t going to happen again if I’m the one driving. While it is harder for our elder to get in and out of our truck, it is easier to store the equipment she needs. In fact, we could take both the walker and the wheelchair if we wanted.
Comfort: All of the aches and pains that come with advancing years needs some attention. While the truck is a bit bouncier than the car, it really rides quite smoothly. If your vehicle rides rough, you may want to consider another vehicle or another mode of transport.
Dial-a-ride: Many cities/counties have programs that allow a person to make an appointment with a special van for rides. Usually the person has to have a handicap placard. Someone can go along to assist as needed. These transports go from door to door if you have a driveway, but there are some condo complexes that they don’t go into. Check with them before making the appointment.
In Southern California, there is a light rail system set up. The front seats of some cars are for people with mobility problems. Wheelchairs can roll in and be strapped down. This is a somewhat expensive option for any long trip.
Van Transport: These are vans set up for people who use wheelchairs. The wheelchair is rolled up into the back of the van and strapped down. The person in the chair is also strapped in. This is even more expensive than Metrolink. A trip of about five miles cost $70.
Ambulance Transport: This is an “only if you have no other choice” option. Even if it is approved by your insurance you will probably have a triple digit co-pay. If it’s not approved, it can go from about $250 to over $500 pretty fast. Ambulance transport does work better if the patient is unable to sit up.
We have used all but the dial-a-ride and Metrolink options for our elder. I’ve done the Metrolink, which is how I know the price. Most of this has been learned the hard way. I hope our experiences help you to have an easier time of it.