If your elderly parent lives with you and needs to be in a wheelchair most of the time, it can be difficult for them to go anywhere. While there are wheelchair transportation services available, those are often for the purpose of medical appointments and if you want one to go to a restaurant, the cost can be prohibitive. You may want to look into getting a wheelchair van. If you already have a van, you can convert it or you can buy a used van to save on expenses and have it converted. You may even find a van that has already had the work done and is ready to use. If you choose to convert a van of yours, you'll have to make some decisions on the features you want, such as the ones below.
How Your Parent Will Access The Van
You can have a wheelchair van made that allows you to enter the side or the back. Being able to push your parent into the back has its advantages. For one, you won't have to worry if you can't find a handicap parking space because you don't need the extra side space to get in and out of the van. In addition, converting the back of the van could be much cheaper than converting the side.
Whether You'll Use A Ramp Or Lift
If you opt for a ramp, you'll have to push the wheelchair up the ramp and back down the ramp. If your parent is heavy, this could require strength and control to keep the wheelchair from getting away from you. Ramps can operate manually or automatically. The manual ramps are more affordable, so if you need to watch your budget, one of those could be a good choice. If you opt for a lift instead, the lift will lower to the ground and then elevate the wheelchair so you can just push it straight into your van. This is less strenuous for you and it allows your parent to get in and out of the van independently if they are able.
What Type Of Seats You'll Include
You'll want to make sure the converted van has tie downs to hold the wheelchair in place in case your parent sits in it while the van is in motion. If you're planning a long drive, your parent may be more comfortable transferring to a regular seat. If this is a possibility, you'll want to discuss your options with the professionals you choose to convert your van. You may need a handicap seat or stow-and-go seating that is flexible. You also need to consider the placement of the seat since the area near the ramp needs to stay clear.
If you don't own a van yet, you may want to ask about how different vans can be converted. This may help you make a decision on the type of van to buy. If you already own a van, discuss your parent's needs with the conversion experts so you choose the features that make your parent the most comfortable while ensuring safety. Contact a company, like Lone Star Handicap Vans, for more help.