How to safely perform car transfers with your elderly parent, that will make you both happy! 


Getting into and out of the car can be tricky for someone with limited mobility and weakness. Frequently a loved one will have to modify how they have been doing this for their entire life. Usually, one places a foot first and then sits down and places the second leg inside the car, but this doesn't work for someone with limited mobility and weakness. I mentioned earlier ideal seat height at 17 to 19 inches, which also applies to car transfers. Keep in mind whether a person is getting into the car from a curb, which is higher than ground level, as this will increase the person's height overall. Suppose your vehicle is low to the ground; in that case, it works better to have the person enter or exit the car on level ground. Whereas if your car seat is higher such as in SUVs and trucks, having the person enter or exit the vehicle from a curb may give that person a mechanical advantage.

Provide these directions or set up for your loved one or assist your loved one in executing the following. 

To Enter The Vehicle:

  1. Open the car door; next, ensure the seat is back at the base and that the back part of the seat is reclined. This is done so that when your loved one has to swing their legs into the vehicle, they can slide back and up the seat back as needed for their feet to clear the door if required; if not, the seat can stay in the upright position. 
  2. Have your loved one turn so their back is towards the seat; if they have a cane or walker, it should be placed in front of them so they can use it to stabilize themselves. 
  3. Once in position, have your loved one slowly lower themselves to the seat while minding their head not to hit the car. 
  4. Now that your loved one is seated have them bring their legs one at a time into the vehicle.
  5. Remember to assist them with buckling their seatbelt.


To Exit The Vehicle:

  1. Open the car door, and have your loved one slowly turn  their body to lift one leg at a time out of the car while seated on the car seat. At this point, keep in mind the mechanical advantages or disadvantages a curb or flat ground may provide you may have to assist your loved one.
  2. Have your loved one use her arms and legs to push to stand.
  3. Once standing, be sure to have a cane or walker in front of them if used.

 Sometimes having cloth seats in your vehicle can make it difficult for a person seated to pivot while seated as their clothing appears to drag on it. Using a small kitchen trash bag- not unfolded and placed on the seat before a person sits down, makes this easier to turn while seated. The car door handle assist below is also a very helpful tool. 

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