The number of older adults driving in the US has increased by 68% in since 2000, showing how eager this age group is to maintain their independence on the road.
But still, because fall still the number one cause of injury and death among older adults in the US, caregivers should help their loved ones take extra precautions when getting in and out of vehicles.
Fortunately, a wide variety of auto-assistance devices are now available for older drivers and passengers, and most of them are easy to install, easy to use, and budget-friendly too. When purchasing these devices and tools, there are several things to keep in mind and a few important questions to ask yourself.
What mobility challenges does my senior face today?
You first need to understand exactly where your older adult is having trouble. Do they just need some extra leverage when sitting and standing, or do they need help from a caregiver? (And what challenges will you face as a caregiver to help them?)
Be sure to check the weight capacity of each device and read the reviews to gauge the durability and longevity of each product before purchasing. If you buy through Amazon and a First memberyou can take advantage of free trials and free returns on most products if they don’t work for you or your senior.
Will the device work with my vehicle?
Read each product’s installation instructions to see if it is compatible with your senior’s vehicle. Most of the devices in this category are universal, but some users noted that certain gadgets were not ideal for their make or model of vehicle. For example, the rear seat support handles often require you to remove the front seat head restraints to install them, so make sure your head restraints come off before purchasing.
Like anything, this should be a collaborative process between you and your senior to find the right solutions for their physical condition, vehicle type and travel preference. With the right mix of tools and processes, your senior can gain a newfound sense of comfort, confidence and independence while driving safely.
Car poles are a popular choice among older drivers and their carers, probably because of their ease of use, light weight and budget-friendly price. It’s one of the simplest solutions you’ll find for seniors who may need a little extra “boost” to get in and out of their vehicle.
Why we love the Able Life Auto Cane:
- Weight limit up to 300 pounds
- Available in three colors
- 6.5″ long, 1.5″ wide
- Lightweight and easy to transport and store in your car
If this particular brand isn’t your style, shop around. There are a large number of car stick options available on Amazonincluding this round car stick from Emson which includes a built-in LED flashlight.
For seniors with weak hip flexors or abs (or those recovering from surgery), lifting their legs in vehicles can be a source of discomfort and stress. These leg lifters allow caregivers and seniors to easily lift and position the legs in the transition from standing to sitting, or vice versa.
Why we love the Bios Living Leg Lifter:
- Wide, bendable foot holder fits almost any foot and offers more structure than many brands
- 42.5″ long and 10″ wide at the foot loop for extra maneuverability
- One year factory warranty
This adjustable handle is supported by a nylon strap that can be easily adjusted and clipped over your car window frame, allowing your senior to pull out of the car seat with ease.
Why we love the Stander Car Caddy:
- Supports up to 250 pounds
- Ergonomic, non-slip five-inch handle makes the handle more comfortable
- Fits most car, truck and van window frames
- Adjustable strap from seven to 16 inches
Most reviews state that this car standing aid must be removed before closing the car door, which is easy enough thanks to the plastic buckle on the support loop. For another similar option in three colors, check out the Grab Bar from Autocane.
This soft loop handle is great for anyone who needs extra help due to its safety features, wide grip and easy installation. This holder slips over the pillars of your car’s headrests, making installation quick and easy.
Why we like the Seat Belt Extender Pros Hand Grip:
- Slips easily over the metal posts in the driver’s or passenger’s headrests
- Wide, five-inch rubber handle provides extra grip and safety
- Keep the device away from the car frame and away from possible damage
Please make sure that your car’s headrests can actually be removed before purchasing this unit as this is the only way to install it. And keep in mind that this type of grab bar only works in the back seat.
Another take on a headrest support is the Handle from Maxsa. Made from heavy duty hard plastic with an ergonomic grip, this is a more structured, safe way for seniors to exert influence when entering and using the rear seat of vehicles on the driver or passenger side.
Why we like the Maxsa handle:
- Made of hard plastic for a more stable grip
- Weighs a third of a pound
- Adaptive handle can swivel or swing in either direction, giving seniors more flexibility and angles to get in and out of the vehicle
This incredibly simple car seat cover works by applying two layers of smooth 200D nylon to your seniors’ car seat, allowing them to easily rotate their legs and shift their weight from side to side for easy access. This rotatable cushion cover helps both caregivers and seniors. For a video on how this cover works, go to the product listing on Amazon.
Why we like the Ruby Slipper Seat Cover:
- Easy installation with a Velcro strap around the headrest and a buckle behind the seat
- Weighs only 12 ounces, making it easy to transport from vehicle to vehicle
- Available in three colours: black, gray and red
Another twist on twist technology, the Sojoy seat cushion takes comfort to the next level with its memory foam padded seat cushion and non-stick grip on the base.
Why we love the Sojoy swivel seat cushion:
- Removable short plush fabric cushion cover is easy to clean
- Memory foam pad infused with cooling gel top layer
- 360 degree rotation
- 1.2 pounds makes it easy to transport
- Can be easily removed and used on bar stools, office chairs, etc.
Some users complained that the cushion sunk so far in their car seats that it couldn’t rotate, so test this product and take advantage of the free returns offered through Amazon if it doesn’t work.
Most car aids are easy to install and use, making them convenient for seniors and carers alike. Take the time to assess your senior’s current situation and challenges, as well as your future plans and goals for their care. Then do your research to find the right solution. After testing different devices, you may find that a combination of devices creates the right solution for you and your senior.