Finding the Right Vehicle

December 5, 2011
How to be a great caregiver

What we want for a new vehicle and what is practical to our needs may not coincide.

Typically people don’t just rush out to a car dealership to purchase a new vehicle without doing a little research first. After all, we know how car salesmen can be. If we’re unsure of the features we want our next car to be equipped with before stepping out onto the lot; we may just get persuaded to buy the convertible we’ve always dreamed of owning instead of the practical hatchback we had planned to test drive that day.

There’s more to a vehicle then looks itself, especially if you’re a family caregiver!

I sat in the rush hour bumper-to-bumper traffic, dreaming of the nice quiet evening I would have after cars started moving and I finally made it home. Noah was staying at a friend’s house, and my sister was looking after Mom and Dad during her visit this week, so Jim and I had the house to ourselves. I had finally decided on spaghetti, garlic bread, and a bottle of red wine for dinner, when I noticed the smell.

Something, somewhere, was burning. I couldn’t tell if it was coming from my car or the one in front of mine, so I plowed ahead for the next few minutes. Another mile down the road I was no longer in doubt; smoke was pouring from the hood of my beloved little Honda, and a loud rattling noise was proceeding from its engine. I groaned and pulled off to the side of the road, where I used my cell phone, first to call a tow truck, and then to call Jim to get him to come pick me up. So much for my romantic evening, I thought.

The next afternoon the mechanic called to give us the verdict. We were looking at a $900 bill if we wanted to fix the ten year old car, which now had 200,000 miles on it.

“Is it worth it?” Jim asked. “It might be time to go ahead and buy a new one.”

I was torn. On the one hand, the idea of driving a new car was incredibly appealing. On the other hand, we hadn’t had a car payment in five years, and I wasn’t eager to get another one. “Do you think we can afford it?” I asked.

“I think so. We’ve been putting an awful lot of money into that car for the past couple of years. I think if we crunched the numbers we might find that we’re spending the same amount for a new car as for the old one. Besides, I just got that raise last month, so that should more than cover the car payments. We should at least do a little shopping and find out what our payments would be.”

“Can we get a convertible?” Noah asked eagerly. His friend Zach’s parents had a convertible, and he’d fallen in love with it.

“Sorry honey, I don’t think so,” I told him. “We need something a little more practical than that. I can’t see your grandmother getting comfortable in a convertible when we take her to the doctor’s.” I looked at Jim. “We should do a little research though. It would be really helpful to find a car that Mom can get in and out of more easily. She’s had a really hard time getting in and out of the car because it’s so low. If we had a slightly higher car I think it would be much easier for her. It would also be great if we could find something that Dad’s wheelchair would fit into.”

Jim agreed, and later that night I went online and did a little research. I had specific criteria in mind. The vehicle needed to be higher than my little Honda, but not so high that my parents would have to hop up to get inside. That ruled out both sports cars and SUV’s. I also needed to be able to easily load Dad’s wheelchair inside by myself, so some sort of hatchback vehicle would be preferable, such as perhaps a minivan or a crossover. Then there were the gadgets. I discovered that many vehicles now come with in-car telematics, which not only track the automobile’s position and condition, but also can put you in touch with paramedics at the touch of a button. I thought about how comforting it would be to have that option, especially since I rode so often with my parents. A navigation system would be helpful too,  since I so frequently had to take my parents to new doctors in out of the way places.

In the end, we settled on a crossover, second-hand, but only a couple of years old. Before we bought the car, we took Mom and Dad, along with all of their accompanying gear, to the lot, and made sure that both of them could get in and out without any problems, and that everything they usually took with them, such as Dad’s wheelchair, fit comfortably inside. We confirmed that it had in-car telematics and GPS, and got good gas mileage. The fact that it also had blue-tooth connections and a DVD player inside was just a bonus. After all, I reflected, I needed to have some fun with this. Driving off the lot in unaccustomed luxury, I was quite excited! Now I could drive with peace of mind, and I had a car that properly accommodated my parents’ needs.

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Chris Lerch, Owner Home Instead Senior Care Houston

We hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or if you know of a senior that could benefit from our vast array of home care services in Houston, please call us at 832 379-4700 or email us. We accept most long term care insurance as payment and have a full time staff supervising more than 100 quality-trained home care personnel covering the Houston, Texas area.

 

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Chris M. Lerch, Owner

We hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or if you know of a senior that could benefit from our vast array of home care services in Houston, please call us at 832 379-4700 or email us. We accept most long term care insurance as payment and have a full time staff supervising more than 100 quality-trained home care personnel covering the Houston, Texas area.

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