Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV) pose a challenge when transporting senior citizens, as such vehicles don't generally have a high interior clearance in which a senior may remain seated in a wheelchair. An SUV provides only one choice in the transport of a senior, and that is to seat the individual into any one of the seats within the vehicle. If the senior has little leg strength, you will need a travel partner who is physically able to provide additional support when loading and unloading the senior, in addition to a level platform as an assist.
Open the desired door on the SUV and set up a collapsible staircase ladder (available from any medical supply store). Such ladders have various safety locking mechanisms and rails with supports which must be engaged per the instructions provided with the specific unit purchased. Snap all locking mechanisms into place after expanding the system, and set the ladder on level ground so it doesn't move while stepping on the device. Test the stability by walking to the top yourself before allowing the senior onto the device.
Have a physically capable partner get into the SUV and have her sit in the seat in which the senior will be sitting. This partner should be positioned so that she can hold the senior's hands or forearms, or to embrace the senior from the front.
Help the senior stand to his feet and stand behind so your body is up against the senior's back to prevent him from falling backwards. If possible, place your arms under the senior's underarms to provide upward lift support so he will need to lift only the weight of his own legs and not his entire body.
Assist the senior in lifting his legs onto each successive step if necessary, while maintaining body stabilization through your partner and your other arm. Once the senior is on the top step, have your partner inside of the vehicle provide support while both of you help the senior rotate and then slide onto the seat.
Fasten safety belts to the senior and transport to the necessary destination. Once at the destination, perform the same supportive movements while unloading the individual, but do so with the senior facing you while he is being walked down the portable collapsible staircase ladder. Keep your body directly in front of the senior while your partner provides stabilization from within the SUV doorway.
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Kurt Schanaman has had several editorials printed by the Star-Herald Newspaper publication in Western Nebraska. He attended Western Nebraska Community College.