Helping an Older Adult With Getting Into or Out of a Vehicle

Whenever you are helping an older adult into the car, transferring them from a wheelchair to a car, or assisting with a mobility device such as a wheelchair or walker, it is important to use proper body mechanics.

Helping a Senior In/Out of a Car (Basics):

  • Check the surrounding area for possible slip or trip risks
  • Wear appropriate non-slip footwear, which are safer for both you and the older adult
  • Stand with feet about shoulder width apart.
  • Keep your head and body as upright as possible.
  • Lower your hips to the height of the older adult by bending your knees and hips rather than your back.
  • Carry weight as close to your center of gravity as possible.
  • Get close to the older adult. Bear weight on your forearms rather than your hands.
  • Lift with your legs, not just your back.
  • When lifting, do not rotate your spine. Change the position of your feet to turn.
  • Push or pull an object instead of lifting whenever you can.
  • Know your limits

Basics of Wheelchair Transfers.

When transferring, positioning, and helping elderly adults get from a wheelchair to a car:

  • Have the older adult you are helping wear a gait belt during transfers, if one is available. A gait belt is a safety device used for moving a person from one place to another. The belt may be used to help hold up a person while she walks and decreases the chance of injury of a helper hurting her back while transferring a passenger.
  • Open the car door and move the car seat back to make more room
  • Stand with your back to the inside of the car door and pull the wheelchair toward you between the car door and seat.
  • Talk the older adult through the transfer process step by step, so that he or she can assist if possible.
  • Use your legs to pull up for strength.
  • Have the older adult lean forward and push themselves up from the arms of the wheelchair. Discourage them from  pulling on the car door to stand because it is not stable.
  • Carefully pivot yourself and the older adult so that his or her backside is toward the inside of the car.
  • Help them sit on the seat with their legs still out of the car. Be careful that their head clears the door frame while they are sitting down.
  • Help them move their legs into the car once they are sitting and have been given a moment to gain their balance. Use a swivel cushion to swing the legs while in a sitting position on the car seat. If you don’t have a swivel cushion, place a towel on a heavy duty plastic bag on your cloth seat or directly on your leather seat. Then, help the older adult sit on the towel-covered seat. Next, go to the other side of the car and pull the towel toward you. The plastic bag makes it easier to slide the person further into the car. Finally, turn his or her legs into the footwell of the car.
  • Assist with the seat belt, and close the door before going to your own seat.

Assisting elderly adults with mobility and transportation is important. Car travel is a part of everyday life for most people, including older adults.

Gadget that Can Help 

A handy bar device can be helpful when moving from sitting in the car to standing outside the car. Once the helper has removed the seatbelt, the handy bar is placed on the latch of the car where the door would normally lock on to enclosed. Test the bar to make sure it is securely in place. Now, lift one leg at a time out of the car and turn the patient. Help them to slide as far forward as possible to the edge of the car. The person in need should place their left hand on the dashboard while you grasp their right hand with your right hand. Place your left hand on the back of their head to help them remember to lean forward and avoid hitting their head. Once standing, pause for a moment to be sure you are both balanced then begin to walk. This transfer would be the same if using a rolling walker. Once the person in need is positioned to stand, the walker would be placed in front of them with the breaks on. 

Seniors require extra care to keep them safe and comfortable. This is why it’s important to choose a trusted Senior Healthcare Facility to ensure they are well taken care of. Bridgeway Senior Healthcare has a reputation for providing extra care to seniors to keep them safe and comfortable.