The number of older adults driving in the U.S. has risen 68% in since 2000, which shows how much this age group wants maintain their independence on the road.
Yet, because falls are still the number one cause of injury and death among older adults in the U.S., caregivers need to help their loved ones take extra precautions when getting in and out of vehicles.
Thankfully, a wide variety of car-assist devices are now available for older drivers and passengers, and most are easy to install, simple to use and also budget-friendly. When shopping for these devices and aids, 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 challenges. Do they simply need a little extra leverage when sitting and standing, or will they need help from a caregiver? (And as a caregiver what challenges will you face in assisting them?)
Be sure to check the weight capacity of each device and read the reviews to gauge the durability and life of each product before purchasing. If you purchase through Amazon and are a Prime member, you can take advantage of free trials and free returns on most products if they don’t work out for you or your senior.
Will the device work with my vehicle?
Read each product’s installation instructions to find if it’s compatible with your senior’s vehicle. Most devices in this category are universal, but some users commented that certain gadgets weren’t ideal for their make or model of vehicle. For example, back-seat support handles often require removing the front seat headrests to install, so make sure your headrests actually come off before purchasing.
Like everything, 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 renewed sense of comfort, confidence and independence while practicing safe driving.
Auto canes are a popular choice among senior drivers and their caregivers, likely due to their ease of use, light weight and budget-friendly price point. It’s one of the simplest solutions you’ll find for seniors who may need a little extra “boost” getting in and out of their vehicle.
Why we like the Able Life Auto Cane:
- Weight limit of 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 multitude of options for car canes available on Amazon, including this round car cane from Emson that includes a built-in LED flashlight.
For seniors with weak hip flexors or abdominal muscles (or those recovering from surgery), lifting their legs into vehicles may be a source of discomfort and stress. These leg lifters allow caregivers and seniors to easily lift and position legs in the transition from standing to sitting, or vice versa.
Why we like 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, allowing for additional maneuverability
- One-year manufacturer’s warranty
This adjustable assist handle is supported by a nylon strap that easily adjusts and clips on over your car window frame and allows your senior to pull themselves out of their car seats easily.
Why we like the Stander Car Caddy:
- Supports up to 250 pounds
- Five-inch ergonomic, nonslip grip makes the handle more comfortable
- Fits most car, truck and van window frames
- Adjustable strap from seven to 16 inches
Most of the reviews share that this automotive standing aid will need to be removed before shutting the car door, which is easy enough to do thanks to the plastic buckle on the support loop. For another similar option in three colors, check out the Grab Bar from Auto Cane.
This soft-loop handle claims to be great for anyone needing extra assistance due to its safety features, wide grip and easy installation. This hold slips over the posts of your car’s headrests, making installation quick and easy.
Why we like the Seat Belt Extender Pros Hand Grip:
- Easily slips over the metal posts in driver or passenger headrests
- Wide, five-inch rubber handle offers extra grip and safety
- Keeps device off the car frame and away from potential damage
Make sure your car’s headrests can actually be removed before purchasing this device, as that’s the only way it can be installed. And keep in mind that this type of handle only works in the back seat.
Another take on a headrest support device is the Grab Handle from Maxsa. Made of heavy-duty hard plastic with an ergonomic grip, this is a more structured, secure way for seniors to gain leverage when entering and existing the back seat of vehicles on either the driver or passenger side.
Why we like the Maxsa Grab Handle:
- Made of rigid plastic for a more stable grip
- Weighs one-third of a pound
- Adaptive handle can swivel or swing in either direction, giving seniors more flexibility and angles for entering and exiting the vehicle
This incredibly simple car seat cover works by providing two layers of slick 200D nylon on your senior’s car seat, so they can easily swivel their legs and shift their weight from side to side for easy access. This swivel cushion cover aids caregivers and seniors alike. To view a video of how this cover works, visit 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 strap behind the seat
- Weighs only 12 ounces, making it easy to transport from vehicle to vehicle
- Available in three colors: black, gray and red
Another variation of swivel technology, the Sojoy seat cushion takes comfort up a notch with its memory foam padded seat cushion and nonstick grip on the base.
Why we like the Sojoy Swivel Seat Cushion:
- Removable cushion cover of short plush fabric 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 barstools, office chairs, etc.
Some users complained the cushion sunk into their car seats so much that it could no longer turn, so be sure to test this product and take advantage of the free returns offered through Amazon if it doesn’t work out.
Assess the situation before shopping
Most car assist devices are simple to install and use, making them easy for seniors and caregivers alike. Take some 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. You might find after testing several that a mix of devices creates the right solution for you and your senior.