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My husband has Parkinson disease and dementia and I need a way to transport him around. We have a 2003 Toyota Camry and it is very difficult for him to be transferred from the wheelchair to the car. I would like to purchase another vehicle because the 2003 Toyota is very old and it may not last too much longer. To date, I have not have any problems with this car since I purchased it new in 2003. However, I do not know what is going to happen tomorrow. My concern is should I purchase a wheelchair van or a regular vehicle?


Has anyone else had to make this decision? Are there any other equipment or device I can use that will make his transfer into the Camry easier?


Any advice you can provide me will be greatly appreciated.


Thanks in advance.
Ann

I visited my aunt today at her facility. Her nurse came by to check on her health issues.. I did not have to think about taking aunt out of facility into COVID. They came to us. Very kind..
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Reply to MAYDAY
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I would definitely purchase an accessible van, I wish I had a few years ago, instead purchased a regular van. Looking now for one. It takes two of us to get my mother in the van and is getting more difficult to lift her. We also used a transportation accessible service, Our Senior Center provides accessible transportation to doctors appointments and grocery shopping. Accessible vans are very expensive but around my area there are some good sales going on right now. Took out a few vans, I liked the Caravan, they run about $35,000 new. I checked out a transfer seat, cost was about $10,000. The seat comes out and lowers to the ground, which makes for easy transfer from the w/c then lifts up into the vehicle. This might be a good option for you. Hope you find something that works well for your husband.
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Reply to earlybird
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Honestly... If you feel you need to purchase a car for LO's needs... You may want to go to a rental service... Hertz, or Enterprise. Test drive a couple vehicles.

I will call a friend whose wife is basically wheel chaired.. And he has a very small car. I saw what he did for her. He is so good and strong. And she was able to assist him in helping her to manuver. Can Your LO's Do That?

So factors are: How tall is he? Can he help transporting himself from chair to car?
Are there any other devices installed to help him?

My lo/s are wheel chaired bound. The best for them, were to get them into a van without taking them out of a chair. Shafi , my driver, would wheel them in, situate them, tie down the wheel. buckle the seatbelts. make sure we, the 2 of us were secure, and off we went. I did not have to be concerned the chair was not secure.. That Is an Awful Feeling.... I will not do that again.. Both BAck wheels were able to be stabilized and locked down to the floor board. Safety so aunty doesn't roll anywhere.... Certainly, if you can, ride with her. bring extra treats. water, diapers, wipes. blanket, in case, sunglasses. and napkins. Pretend you are on a picnic with aunt. You need these things, fruit food, especially water, wipes, and tissues. diapers.. and stories. make it fun
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Reply to MAYDAY
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Maybe that's why I stay where I am at.. My kid had to have a few dental procedures.. "laughing gas?" When she was able to walk, we walked back home. Why Mom? I am sorry,, took my car to the shop, and it's not done yet...
She looked at me:: I CAN'T FEEL MY LEGS.
I told her It's okay. I am here. It's only a couple blocks... we walked it off.
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Reply to MAYDAY
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So I purchased a vehicle so I could transport my LO's. I guess I should have taken them on a test drive..
Needless to say,,, I found my driver who is with a taxi company. And to many surprises, his taxi fit the wheelchair the best in our case... who knew?
If your LO needs to leave his home more often than not.. do the calculations.
Perhaps in the future if my LO needs more vehicle access, I may consider purchasing a vehicle or modifying my old one.... I HOPE I DO NOT NEED TO DO THIS.... I hate driving. and getting a driver to take him 2 miles away, may be worth it... I can ride in the back!
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Reply to MAYDAY
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When my BIL became paralyzed from a trucking accident my FIL used a board to transfer him from the wheelchair into the car. When MIL needed a wheelchair he purchased a van because of the height of the seats. With assistance she could get to a standing position and turn to sit so he then assisted by lifting her legs and turning her in the seat to face forward. Husband’s youngest sister now has limited use of her legs due to failed back surgery 20 years ago. She can walk with the aid of braces and crutches so has a Tahoe that she had equipped with a lift in the back to raise her wheelchair and move it into the back compartment, she then can walk the short distance to the driver’s door and had hand controls added so she can still drive.
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Reply to EllensOnly
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I had to make that decision a few years ago. I'm so glad I decided to buy a Toyota Sienna with access seat has made my life so much easier.
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Reply to lrcmjw
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Again... Tell me what area you are in. I TRULY TRUST MY DRIVER. HE MAY HAVE CONNECTIONS IN IS COMPANY. TELL ME THE CITY, I WILL ASK MY DRIVER. I HAVE BEEN USING THIS MAN FOR SEVERAL YEARS.

FIRST: HIS VEHICLE IS LARGE ENOUGH TO PUT A FULL SIZE CHAIR IN IT, STRAP IT DOWN SAFELY, ALONG WITH THE PASSENGER. THIS IS MOST IMPORTANT.

You give me the areas...I will ask my driver... He is a Sweet Heart. For some reason he cannot make it a day.. I change the appointment so I can get him... He has lots of friends... honestly ,,, shafi is a sweetheart, and he knows how to handle me and my aunt... I dont care if we need to wait a bit longer ... I bring snacks.. If he cannot make it, he will try his best to find someone else who can... It's all GOOD

With all that i said, and looking at the bloggers.. One charge, one way ,could be $15 -$50, . He is a good guy.. Get's my aunt from sport to the next... no issues
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Reply to MAYDAY
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Imho, your decision is going to come down to the fact that your husband's health will no doubt worsen. It probably is not a valid idea to keep a compact auto. I cannot advise you to purchase a wheelchair van since I do not know your financial status and if it going to be worth it in the long run. Prayers sent.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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For what you might pay for a transport van, you might look at some of the transfer adaptations that can be done for a regular car or mini van. They have chairs that can come out of car, let him sit, and then move back into the car - push button. The ones I have seen replace the passenger front seat.

They can also install a ramp on a mini van so that you can roll a wheelchair inside. Doesn't have all of the head room of the big ones, but more affordable.
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Reply to my2cents
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I own a Ford Transit wheelchair van with a lift and used to own a Dodge caravan wheelchair van with a ramp.   You can sometimes find used ones or ones they call "new/used" (ie:  used vehicle with new conversion).  As far as you getting one, it really depends on how much you need to transport your husband.  Will you use it everyday?  once a week? or only a couple of times a month?  Does you husband, like mine, want to get out of the house daily?  Knowing this will help the decision making process .

There is a company called Mobility Works, they are in various cities in the US.  I recommend you visit one to look at what they have and discuss the merits of one vs the other.  They can also help you with options for getting in and out of regular car.  If your husband can stand a "car cane" may be a big help. 

Our caravan was a new/used conversion when we purchased it and it worked very well until I needed to transport two wheelchair bound people, then I needed something bigger.  Which is why we want to the Transit.  The other nice thing about the Transit is that we got the "mid-roof" model so that I could stand upright in the back to help my husband with his seatbelt.

Another thought, if your husband is a veteran, you might check with your local VA to see if they might help pay for some of this. Ours paid for the Wheelchair conversion on the Transit after I purchased it as a regular vehicle (that helped with the cost tremendously).  If his disability is considered to be caused by his military service, they will pay for a one time purchase of a transport vehicle.  If not service connected they will still help with the conversion costs.

Hope  my rambleing thoughts helped you some.
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Reply to Stiffkr
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As others have noted, wheelchair vans are very expensive. Can your husband stand with help and take a step or two while hanging on to something for support? If so, you can work this out with existing or similar car. My sister has a 2010 Camry with rather low bucket seats. We used a "car cane", a simple handle that you slide into the slot in the car door frame. My Mom could push herself up from her wheelchair, grab the car cane with one hand and car door with the other. We wanted a swivel seat to help her move her legs into the car after she sat down. The ones you can find online are pretty useless based on reviews, so we made one. We cut two boards to fit a bucket seat and bought a swivel mechanism from West Marine (think bass boat swivel chair) to fasten between the boards. We attached a fairly thin but comfortable cushion on top with Velcro and it worked great. If you do make a swivel seat, keep in mind your husband's height in the seat. Both the car cane and the swivel seat are removable and easily storable. Good luck.
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Reply to Mzungu58
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I had a friend who bought herself a wheelchair van and found it very helpful. It was equipped with as motorized ramp, and she also had a motorized wheelchair.

she actually tried several versions on a lease basis, and upgraded in stages.

if you get a “ordinary” vehicle, think about the height of the seat. A slide board may work if the seat is not too high or low, compared to your wheelchair. Sometimes a “regular” sedan is too low, an SUV “may” be too high. A minivan “may“ be just right.
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Reply to OldernWiser
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I think that it comes down to how much use you would get out of it, if you are the kind of people who like to go out several times a week it would be worth it but if it's just for the occasional appointment IMO you would probably be better off exploring what kind of disability transit is available in your area.
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Reply to cwillie
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Hi

Toyota Sienna

They've been used by a taxi service to transport morbidly obese people on "My 600 pound Life" to and from hospital and home.
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Reply to shad250
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1.   What are the changeable and unchangeable issues?    I.e., Parkinson's may or may not get worse, but it can't be cured, to the best of my knowledge.  But  will it progress to cause more limited mobility?    Only the treating doctor could address this, so get his/her opinion.

But you'll need something for now and in the future, with perhaps the possibility of upgrading support in the future.

2.  How often do you transport him?   For medical visits only, or for family/friend visits, for excursions just to get out of the house?    If the latter, could you have social gatherings at home so transfer to the vehicle is less of an issue?

My point is to establish a baseline for cost comparison.

3.  Have you tried a slide board? My father made 2 for my mother and they worked well.  The wheelchair is positioned next to the car seat, and wheels locked.  The wheelchair foot rests and arm rest next to the inside of the car are removed.  The slide board is positioned as close to the person in the wheelchair as possible.

Assuming the person can slide, or "scooch" as the therapists called it, he/she tilts to the right, the individual in the car (you) gently slides the board under the left hip, and he straightens out.   Then using his hands to support him, he gently scoots over closer to the driver's side.   Once he's firmly on the seat, he tips to the left, and you remove the board.

This is a fairly good illustration of using a slide board, with a few exceptions:

a.   The individual holding the to-be transferred person needs to be very careful and avoid bending so much as to cause back injury.

b.   The board could be longer by about 1/2 foot, to provide more space on each side for the helper to insert his or her hands comfortably.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFUW7He43_g

This is another illustration, but I wouldn't consider it as safe, for either assistant. In addition, the board is too short and doesn't allow the individual being transferred sufficient space to be comfortable, and safe, since a short board could tip if a heavy person is on one end.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZ6xeS_GjSk

My father designed and made boards for my mother, but boards can also be purchased; I would price them at a DME supplier.

4.    I would count the number of times transfer has been necessary in the past years (assuming you're also keeping track of rides and mileage for potential tax purposes).    If you're transferring to the vehicle more and believe that it will increase in the future, calculate your potential costs on that basis.

5.    Price local transit for a comparison.   I took a non emergency ambulance for cataract surgery followup; it was $40 one way plus cost for gas (I don't remember how much).    I think the total cost was around $140 ($80 transit plus gas, round trip.     This gives you a baseline for considering whether a new car would be better than paid transit, but this is ONLY for nonwheelchair transit.

I learned that some ambulance companies do provide these nonemergency services.  The one I hired was cheaper than the transit I had to hire for my father back in 2003, which if I remember was also $40 one way at that time.

5.    Price wheelchair vans and regular vehicles; add in any financing costs (to the extent that they're amortized, and create an annual cost for either the van or regular vehicle.   Compare it to paid transportation.   That'll help you decide whether or not to purchase or to hire.

6.   Paid transportation in a wheelchair equipped van has another nonmonetary factor:  it's much safer; and you're not alone in handling the transfer.   In addition, if it should break down, the company could send a backup.  

If you have to carry oxygen with you, that could make a big difference in safety.

7.    In Virginia, how much snow do you get?   Would it be a factor in safe transit?  it's a nonmonetary consideration, but a valid one.  

8.    Do you have a ramp?   If not, would you need one in the future?
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Reply to GardenArtist
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Here in Canada if you purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle is gets special tax treatment as it is considered to be medical equipment. If you buy a van and have it converted, you only get the special tax treatment on the conversion costs.
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Reply to Tothill
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Handicapped Vans are very expensive unless you find a good used one. The Van alone would cost you over 30k. Then you have to have it outfitted depending on how you will use it. My GFs was set up where she came in the side, then lined up her scooter chair and "clicked" it in the passengers side. Her husband drove it but it did have handicap controls for her. Before her death, she was looking into a PT Cruiser that was wheelchair accessible. The back of the car goes up and you wheel in from there. Here's a side version but I have seen a rear entry version too. Rear would be better since people parking near a handicap space don't realize that even going 6 in over into the ramp space makes it hard for the ramp to come out completely or not enough room for the wheelchair to maneuver.

http://www.mobilitymotoring.com/listings/2006-chrysler-pt-cruiser-touring/

From what I have seen, there are a number of SUVs that can now be made accessible.

Does your husband have a wheelchair where the side slides upward. If so, a transfer board maybe what you need.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=transfer+board&i=hpc&gclid=Cj0KCQjwp4j6BRCRARIsAGq4yMGG0PLH2gLwCZeI4NVDO8iE5itzIGL6ehoxQ8jJnEwnnAwc3sqb0HUaArwuEALw_wcB&hvadid=177767189694&hvdev=t&hvlocphy=9003829&hvnetw=g&hvqmt=e&hvrand=9150464766364286275&hvtargid=kwd-1612966901&hydadcr=21630_9710605&tag=googhydr-20&ref=pd_sl_58d5zdqxhn_e
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Reply to JoAnn29
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2 ideas and thoughts: How often do you need to take husband out? If it is for medical, can they come to our home to evaluate hubby, especially during COVID.

If it is less than 4 times a year, could your call your local taxi cab company and ask if the have handicap vehicle/van, where they roll hubby into it- WHEELCHAIR ACCESS VAN. I have my driver's number in my cell.. He works for yellow cab in our area. Not all access wheelchair vans or drivers are the same. So, if you find someone you like, make sure your get his personal cell number, and get his taxi cab number, etc.
good luck
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Reply to MAYDAY
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jar3431 Aug 23, 2020
Seeing how he gets in and out of someone else's wheelchair van(s) sounds like a good idea to me. It would let you evaluate how he interacts with the ramp or lift, etc.

Have you driven a van before? You might want to try to fit in a test drive by yourself to make sure you are comfortable with getting in and out of a higher vehicle, driving, going through drive thru, parking, and so on.
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Is it possible for you to use a transport chair when you go out. They are a bit lighter so they are easier to lift into a trunk or back of an SUV.
Another option if you live where there is not a lot of snow would be a wheelchair carrier that attaches to the back of the car.
If you are looking for a van or vehicle that has been adapted for a wheelchair I would look into used ones if possible as getting a van converted is rather expensive.
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Reply to Grandma1954
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JoAnn29 Aug 23, 2020
Part of the problem is tranferring him from chair to car.
(1)
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Transferring him is only going to get harder. It seems that a wheelchair accessible van is the way to go.
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