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Mobile Lifestyle Advisor

Q. I have recently purchased a house with a full basement that has a stair lift chair on the steps. The previous owner said it worked but had not used it in 2 years. I have tried to make it move but to no avail and I am thinking it is the batteries in the unit. Is this something I can do myself?

A. The short answer is yes it is possible. I would first go online and see if YouTube has a video on how to change batteries on your particular model. If not, search by brand name for a local dealer and let him do a complete check over of the unit. This may cost more, however even if YOU put the batteries in it (providing you can find the correct size) it still may NOT move because of the many safety switches that will stick over time causing the unit to just beep and not move.. Your charger is also key in making sure the unit functions properly. All told these units are handy and very much worth keeping them in good shape.

Q. I have purchased a Pride scooter and now need a van to carry it in. I want to carry the scooter outside the van to give me the most seating room. What is the best lift for me? Lisa P.

A. There are a whole range of outside lifts that are available to you for this type of carrier. Let’s first look at the scooter you are going to buy. Mobility solutions depend on weights and measurements. Without knowing what length and width your scooter is, I will assume it is a Pride Revo or Victory. Either of these scooters are suitable for an outside lift or carrier. Now your decision will be whether you need to have a powered lift or a simple carrier. There are a lot of manufactures making simple carriers. These units fit into a Class II or Class III receiver hitch. Most have a fold down ramp that allows you to drive the empty scooter up onto the platform. When you are not using the carrier you simply pull it off the van. Power units, which fit in the same Class II or Class III receiver, are much different and allow you to leave the carrier on the van at all times. These units drop to the ground, you drive up onto the platform, get off the scooter, and then press a button and it lifts up the empty scooter and in most cases has an automatic latch to secure the scooter. With a swing away kit you can access the back of the van by pulling a pin on the empty lift and swinging it away from the van. When you are not using the lift to carry a scooter, the platform folds up against the back of your van. Now here is the question that you need to address before buying anything. What is the maximum tongue weight the hitch can support? This weight will dictate what type of carrier and how much your scooter can weight. Don’t abuse the weight capacity. Too much tongue weight jeopardizes the ability to steer your van. It also forces the van suspension down, in most cases too low for proper ground clearance. I would not suggest doing anything until you lift find out the total weight of your lift, hitch and scooter. You may find that an inside lift is much safer, and more economical in the long run. Bruno has a great web site which can guide you thru the selection of lift styles for your particular vehicle and mobility device.

Q. I have just passed my driver evaluation and I am looking forward to driving. My family has a full size van, but I was interested in looking at minivans. My manual chair is 29” wide. Which style of minivan would be the best? Angela D.

A. Just like the last reader, measurements are important. First let me suggest that you visit your NMEDA Mobility Dealer and actually try out several types of minivans. You mentioned your chair was 29” wide, I am assuming that includes your hand rails. If your hand rails are wider than 29” we may have a problem getting into the minivan. Most manufacture specifications show usable ramp width of 29”, all ramps have side rails on them that protrude up about 1” to 11/2” depending on style of ramp. Hand rails on manual chairs cannot clear these side rails. The biggest obstacle however, is the ramp incline. “The proof is in the pudding” is what I always say, so it is important to try out several styles of van ramps. With the present day kneel systems, most ramps are easy to roll up, however each individual has different abilities and again I think you should visit your dealer and try out several brands before you make a final decision. I did not go into the space requirements at the driving position or the need of an automatic locking system because I am sure your evaluator went over these requirements. A professional evaluation would spell out all your driving requirements and you should have a copy. This document is necessary so that your mobility dealer can be sure to make the proper modifications for your situation. Congratulations on passing your driving exam.!

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