If you provide transportation for a loved one who utilizes a wheelchair, cane, walker, or just has minor troubles with mobility, a few items that do not require vehicle modifications and are relatively inexpensive may be of help:
Assist bars are usually small, about 2-pound, L-shaped devices, meant as a portable vehicle support grab or transfer aid. They are normally small enough to fit into a coat pocket or purse and can easily be carried from car to car and used on either side of a vehicle.
The shorter portion of the “L” shoves down into the U-shaped latch attached to the doorjamb on most cars. That leaves the longer, padded portion sticking out at a right angle as a grab handle to help a person rise or lower into a vehicle. The bar can then be removed to close the door.
Price: $10 to $30
This belt can strap around the window frame in any car door and has a wide handle that users grasp and pull on to rise out of the vehicle. They are often called support straps or transfer straps.
There are also versions designed for back-seat users, and attach to the metal posts supporting the front-seat head restraints and extend horizontally.
Price: $10 to $20 for a front-seat version; $5 to $10 for a back-seat version
These devices sit on the vehicle seat and rotate to ease the process of swinging feet into and out of a vehicle.
Price: $15 to $30
Ramps are among the most recognizable signs of a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.
Price: Varies widely depending on type of ramp and modifications necessary for the vehicle. Manual ramps that must be carried and extended by hand, then folded for storage, can be as little as $100.
These seats are typically installed in a vehicle to help people who use wheelchairs get into the vehicle's seat. The seat powers out from the car, lowers and rotates for easier transfer from a wheelchair, then raises and rotates into a conventional auto seating position. The seat replaces an existing car seat, it is not a simple add-on.
Price: About $10,000, depending on vehicle in which it's installed, amount of customization and seller
Source: “Caregiver Tips: 6 Great Mobility-Friendly Car Accessories.” AARP, www.aarp.org/caregiving/tips-hacks/personal-care/self-zipper-helper.