Tips/Advice

Get the latest tips and advice related to everything ranging from buying and selling a handicapped van to modifying your current vehicle, and more.
  • Resources in Georgia for Physically Disabled Persons

    Van Products serves physically disabled customers throughout the state of Georgia. Our team of professionals know what it is like to go through buying a new vehicle - especially one that is outfitted for a wheelchair or scooter.

    As one of the leaders in buying or purchasing a handicap wheelchair van in Georgia, we are equally proud to offer additional resources for physically disabled persons and their families. Read below.

    Van Products side entry handicap van

    Resources in Georgia for Physically Disabled Persons

    Below, we've compiled a list of information related to physical disabilities and getting around the area. For additional information on handicap vans in Georgia or to

    Georgia Department of Community Health’s (DCH) Division of Medical Assistance’s Service Options Using Resources in a Community Environment (SOURCE)

    What They Do:

    • a State Plan enhanced primary care case management program serving beneficiaries with chronic health conditions, including people with disabilities and frail elderly, to improve their health outcomes by linking primary medical care with home and community-based services.

    Contact Info:

    2 Peachtree Street, NW Atlanta, GA 30303 (404) 657-7211 website


    Georgia Department of Human Services’ Division of Aging Services (DAS)

    What They Do:

    • Administers a statewide system of services for senior citizens, their families and caregivers through the Area Agencies on Aging.
    • Services include: care coordination, chore services, emergency response system, friendly visiting, alternative living services, home modification and repair & more.

    Contact Info:

    Two Peachtree Street, NW Suite 9385 Atlanta, GA 30303-3142 (404) 657-5258 Toll-free: 1-866-55-AGING or 1-866-552-4464 website


    Georgia Department of Labor’s Rehabilitation Services

    What They Do:

    • Strives to help people with disabilities become productive members of society by achieving independence and meaningful employment.

    Contact Info:

    Suite 510 Sussex Place 148 Andrew Young International Boulevard, NE Atlanta, GA 30303-1751 (404) 232-3910 website


    FOCUS

    What They Do:

    • Offers comfort, hope, and fun to families with children who are medically fragile or have significant developmental or physical disabilities through a variety of programs.

    Contact Info:

    website


    BlazeSports America (U.S. Disabled Athletes Fund)

    What They Do:

    • Provides all children and adults with physical disabilities the chance to play sports and live healthy, active lives.

    Contact Info:

    280 Interstate North Circle Suite 450 Atlanta, Georgia 30339 Phone 1: 770-850-8199 Fax: 770-850-8179 Email: blazesports@blazesports.com website


    Fun Facts About Georgia

    Finally, we're including some fun and interesting facts about Georgia.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    • Georgia is the largest state east of the Mississippi River.
    • Georgia has 159 counties, more than any other state east of the Mississippi.
    • Georgia is known as the Peach State, but it's also the country's top producer of pecans, peanuts, and vidalia onions.
    • The Georgia Colony was the last of the 13 original colonies to be established.
    • The Georgia Colony was named after King George II of England.
    • Wesleyan College in Macon was the first college in the world chartered to grant degrees to women.

    Contact Van Products Today!

    For additional information about buying or purchasing a wheelchair van in Georgia, contact Van Products at:

    (800) 209-6133 (919) 238-4597

  • 6 Tips to Winterize Your Wheelchair Van

    According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), 70% of the nation’s roads are located in snowy regions, areas that receive an average of five inches or more of snowfall each year.

    Below, we’re offering our disabled drivers several helpful tips to get their handicap accessible vehicles ready for the pending winter weather.

    image-by-get-directly-down-flickr-cc

    Tips to Prep Your Wheelchair Van for Winter

    #1 - Maintain Regular Service Appointments.

    Don’t wait until the first major snow fall. Contact Van Products to make a service appointment to ensure that all of your mobility equipment is up to date and working as it should.

    You’ll also want to make sure you make an appointment with your local auto shop for any oil changes, tire services and fluid top offs.

    #2 - Take It Slow.

    Keep in mind that many wheelchair accessible vehicles have lowered floors, meaning that you have less ground clearance than other vehicles.

    If there is snow or ice on the ground, you’ll want to drive even slower than usual to be on the safe side.

    #3 - Scrape Your Vehicle & De-Ice Before Driving in Snow.

    All drivers alike should take care to scrape off their car and de-ice before taking the wheel in snowy weather. This is especially important if you are a wheelchair user as you’ll want to have full visibility while driving.

    There are many affordable de-icer sprays available on the market that can save you a significant amount of time and hassle - especially if you have a physical disability or other type of mobility challenge.

    #4 - Pay Attention to Your Tires.

    Part of prepping your handicapped van for the winter weather ahead includes considering whether or not it may be necessary to swap out your tires for snow tires.

    Unlike all-season tires, snow “winter” tires are typically characterized by a deeper tread and are made of special rubber compounds that stay pliable in cold weather, allowing them to have a better grip on cold surfaces. This improves your ability to brake in extremely cold conditions.


    *A Word About 4-Wheel-Drive (4WD) & All Wheel Drive (AWD)

    Never assume that just because you have a 4-wheel-drive vehicle that you’re safe to drive on wintery roads. WRONG. Remember that 4WD and AWD improves traction by distributing power to all four of your wheels when you accelerate (versus two wheels).

    Once you go to apply your brakes, however, all bets are off. Your tires are what matter, which is why it makes a difference the type of tires you have on your vehicle.


    So, how do you know whether you should install snow/winter tires on your handicapped van? A large part of this decision will depend on two main factors:

    1. Where you live
    2. How much you drive

    For example, someone who owns a wheelchair van in Florida during the winter will likely never have to worry about putting snow tires on their vehicle. Meanwhile, someone who lives in Minnesota might have to switch out their tires seasonally.

    #5 - Keep Ramps Clear.

    One of the biggest afterthoughts in winterizing handicap accessible vehicles is ensuring that the ramps are kept clear of any debris.

    During the winter, it’s not uncommon to experience difficulties with handicap ramps getting jammed or stuck due to frozen weather.

    While you may not always be able to prevent ramp jams, you can still do your part to ensure that your vehicle’s ramp is clear of debris, such as leaves, dirt, snow, or ice.

    #6 - Have An Emergency Kit Handy.

    Regardless of the season, it is always a smart idea to have an emergency kit in your vehicle.

    One option is to swap out emergency kits by season. A winter emergency kit may have items, such as: hand/feet warmers, extra socks/shoes, an ice scraper, shovel, kitty litter/sand (in case you get stuck in snow), etc.

    Contact Van Products

    For additional about mobility products and accessories, new or used handicap vans - contact Van Products today!

    (800) 209-6133 (919) 238-4597

  • Checklist for Making Your Home Wheelchair Accessible

    The ADA is the most comprehensive federal civil rights statute protecting the rights of people with disabilities.

    While ADA guidelines do not extend to private, residential homes, these guidelines are still helpful and good to keep in mind - especially when you are trying to make your home wheelchair accessible.

    Below, we’ve put together a brief checklist, based on ADA guidelines. For additional information on making your home more wheelchair accessible, we encourage you to contact our mobility specialists.

    by-karen

    KITCHEN

    • Doorway width of at least 32"
    • Counters no more than 34" in height, or a pull out board of that height
    • Lever hardware and faucet controls
    • Refrigerator/freezer of side-by-side style
    • Range controls in front or side

    BATHROOMS

    • Sink should have at least 29" of clearance under the front edge to allow wheelchair user to pull under the sink and use the faucet.
    • Toilet seat should be between 17" and 19" inches above the floor.
    • Should be enough room for a wheelchair user to turn around (either in a 60" diameter circle or in a T-shaped turn).

    HALLWAYS/DOORS

    • Is the doorway leading to accessible spaces at least 32" wide?
    • Be sure hallways are free of steps or abrupt vertical changes over 1/4".
    • Be sure that at least one door to each accessible space has door hardware (levers, pulls, panic bars, etc.) usable with one hand.

    BEDROOMS

    • Allow at least a 36"-wide route on each side of the bed and at the foot of the bed to allow people who use wheelchairs to transfer onto the bed from either side.
    • Make sure all bedroom doors have security latches or bolts mounted no higher than 48" above the floor so it is within the reach of people who use wheelchairs.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    • According to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the average adult wheelchair, can be up to 50 inches long and up to 32 inches wide.
    • There are different types of wheelchairs for different uses. Wheelchairs made for sport have a slightly lower seat and are wider than the average wheelchair.
    • The adult wheelchair requires 60 inches of space to make a 360-degree turn.
  • Make Your Vehicle Wheelchair Accessible

    Getting into a new or used handicap van can be a time filled with both excitement and anxiety.

    If this is your first time converting your van into one that is wheelchair accessible, there are several things that you can do to make your vehicle more wheelchair accessible. Below, we outline several tips.

    Mobility Options for Making a Vehicle Handicap Accessible

    At Van Products, we are your mobility experts. Whether you own a handicap van and are looking to add mobility options to it - or you own a regular minivan that you're interested in converting - we can help!

    #1 - Prep your van by removing the seats.

    Depending on the type of wheelchair ramp you plan to use, you may need to remove all or some of the seats. For example, if you want your van to have a side-entry wheelchair ramp, you'll want to remove the center row of seats. If you plan to have a rear-entry wheelchair van, you'll want to remove the rear row of seats to allow enough space for the rear entry ramp.

     

    #2 - Measure the height of your minivan.

    You may not be aware of it initially, but the height of your minivan matters. Take your measurements from the ground, and be sure to include the width of the door(s) to your minivan (side and back).

    These measurements will allow you to speak to a mobility specialist about getting a side or rear-entry wheelchair ramp that meets the specific measurements of your vehicle.

     

     

    #3 - Installing Wheelchair Tie-Downs

    Wheelchair tie-downs are a type of securement for wheelchairs that are used throughout the industry. This allows persons in wheelchairs to travel safely when inside of a moving vehicle. At Van Products, we offer several different types of wheelchair tie-downs including:

     

    Among the different brands of wheelchair tie-downs, there are two types of wheelchair tie-downs that are commonly used.

    4-Point Tie Downs

    The 4-point system is the most common type of wheelchair tie-down. It is a manual tie-down method that consists of four straps that attach to the wheelchair. These straps secure the wheelchair to the floor of the van and are tightened using a ratchet.

    Electric Wheelchair Restraints

    If you use an electric wheelchair, electric wheelchair restraints allow for more independent use. This type of wheelchair tie-down consists of a connecting component that is attached to the bottom of the wheelchair and connects to an anchored device that is mounted to the floor of the vehicle.

    When the two components meet, there is an audible 'click' indicating that the wheelchair is now securely in place.

    2016-toyota-sienna-se

    #4 - Automotive Seating

    If you plan to operate your handicap van independently, one of the most important components is making sure you have the right kind of automotive seating.

    Van Products offers a range of innovative and customizable automotive seating for physically disabled drivers.

    Contact Van Products Today

    For additional information about converting your minivan into a handicap accessible van, contact Van Products today. We also offer a full inventory of new and pre-owned handicap vans. Call us today to speak with one of our mobility specialists: 919-238-4597.

  • Caring for the Caregiver

    Caregivers do so much to help care for those who have mobility issues or other medical problems due to injury, older age or disability. However, who cares for the caregiver, and how does the health of someone hold up if they're constantly putting others' needs before themselves?

    Perhaps not surprisingly, caregivers are more likely than others to have coexisting anxiety or depression, in part, due to the physical and emotional stress that often comes with caring for another person.

    deepres-flickr

    Caregiving: A Rewarding but Often Stressful Responsibility

    While being a caregiver is incredibly rewarding, it is a "job" that doesn't pay but demands quite a bit from the individual. Did you know: According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP, Nearly 45 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to a child or adult in the last year?

    Tips for Caregivers

    Below, we've compiled several helpful tips to help you (or the caregiver in your life) lead a healthier life while still providing care to loved ones.

    #1 - Know the signs of caregiver stress.

    Some signs of caregiver stress include (but are not limited to):

    • Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
    • Feeling tired most of the time
    • Sleeping too much or too little
    • Irritable mood
    • Losing interest in activities they once used to enjoy
    • Substance abuse (drugs/alcohol)

    #2 - Join a support group.

    It can be helpful to receive encouragement and problem-solve with other like-minded individuals who are experiencing similar situations to you.

    #3 - Exercise.

    Getting regular exercise can help to ease stress and help you focus on your own health. It is important to take care of yourself first so that you can provide quality care to those you love.

    #4 - Eat healthy.

    Diet is just as important as exercise. Don’t negate the effects of a good workout by eating poorly. Eat food that is nutritious and which will supply your body with the nutrients it needs to function properly.

    #5 - Get plenty of rest.

    Sleep is one of the biggest things anyone can do for their body to help it function better. When we sleep, we allow our bodies the chance to recharge.

    You are Not Alone.

    It is easy to get caught up in the act of caregiving so much so that it leaves you feeling overwhelmed or even guilty. Know that you are not alone; other caregivers are in similar situations. In addition to the tips above, it is also helpful to take advantage of any and all local resources you may have available. A great resource for caregivers is the Area Agencies on Aging (AAA).

    For other information about mobility accessories or other resources for those with physical disabilities, contact Van Products today: (800) 209-6133.

  • Navigating the Airport by Wheelchair: 5 Things to Know

    Have you ever tried to navigate the airport during the holiday season or some other busy time? Now imagine doing it from a wheelchair.

    Today, most airports comply with federal and state regulations to make areas accessible to those faced with mobility challenges, but there is still room for improvement. If you or someone you know is wheelchair bound, the following are some helpful things to keep in mind.

    Barriers to Travel for Wheelchair Users

    Airports can be busy and confusing places for people – especially when that person is faced with mobility challenges. Whether you or someone you love is traveling by wheelchair, pay attention to the following, potential barriers. How many of these are barriers to mobility at your local airport?

    • Terminal parking
    • Ticketing counters
    • Security
    • Transfer to aisle chair and airplane seat
    • Wheelchair storage
    • Transferring back to a wheelchair
    • Baggage claim
    • Etc.
    airport

    Tips to Better Navigate the Airport by Wheelchair

    #1 - Plan ahead.

    Barring family events or visiting friends, when you plan a trip, be diligent and consider traveling to places where there is plenty of accessibility. For example, did you know that you can take a wheelchair accessible trip to Machu Picchu, the Galapagos Islands or the Amazon rainforest? This may mean being a little more selective in your travel destination.

    #2 - Call ahead.

    Even if you've traveled with a wheelchair before, it is still prudent to find out what sorts of restrictions may apply to you or a loved one when traveling by wheelchair. For more information, call the disability hotline operated by the US Department of Transportation at (800) 778-4838 with any mobility/wheelchair access-related questions.

    #3 - Reserve a wheelchair in advance.

    Are you traveling with an elderly parent or someone with limited mobility? Wheelchairs are available free of charge at most airports, and in most cases, an airport employee will be available to take you by wheelchair (or electric cart) to your gate.

    Reservations may be made up to a few days in advance of your flight. Simply call your local airport and let them know that you need a wheelchair. They will ask you a few questions about your level of mobility, which will help them best determine what type of wheelchair access you need. If you are traveling with someone who needs a wheelchair or who has a special type of wheelchair, this is also a good time to speak to an airport representative. He/she will help ensure that your visit to the airport goes as smoothly as possible.

    #4 - Consider a travel agent.

    If you are planning travel outside of the country or are traveling alone to an unfamiliar area, it may be worthwhile to hire a travel agent who specializes in disabled travel. Specialized travel agencies are knowledgable about and can reserve transportation, flights, hotels, tours and more that accommodate wheelchair users. In some cases, you can even request a certified travel companion and special medical equipment rental.

    As with other types of travel agents, you'll want to do your due diligence to ensure that the travel agent you hire is experienced and vetted.

    #5 - Know where to park.

    Parking can be tricky at most airports. If it's your first time flying out your local airport in a wheelchair or with a wheelchair user, it may not be a bad idea to do a "dry run" the week before you're schedule to fly out. This will allow you time to get the lay of the land, figure out where to park and ask questions of airport staff while there.

    Finally - be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to navigate the airport - from the time you park to the time you arrive at your gate. Doing so will help improve your travel experience.

    For more information about mobility accessories for wheelchair users, contact Van Products today (800) 209-6133.

  • Back to School Tips for College Students with Physical Disabilities

    A 2013 National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) report concluded that 2,563,000 students with disabilities were enrolled in the 2011 to 2012 academic year, accounting for 11.1% of all undergraduates enrolled nationwide.

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

    People with a disability are less likely to have completed a bachelor's degree than people with no disability. Among people age 25 and older in 2014, 16.4 percent of people with a disability had completed at least a bachelor’s degree. By comparison, 34.6 percent of people with no disability had completed at least a bachelor’s degree. 

    by-scui3asteveo-flickr-cc

    Tips for College Students with Disabilities

    The following are some helpful tips for college students living with mobility challenges.

    #1 - Plan ahead.

    If you or your child has a physical disability and are enrolled at a college or considering attending a particular college, contact the college’s disability services offices as far in advance as possible so that you can schedule a time to visit the campus.

    Part of your college research should include researching what types of disability services, support groups, clubs and adaptive sports are available to physically disabled students.

    A scheduled visit to the campus can give you a better idea of what to expect - even in so far as how the classrooms are set up to allow those with mobility challenges to easily navigate around.

    #2 - Check out the layout of the campus.

    A college student who uses a wheelchair may find it difficult to navigate a college campus where there are a lot of stairs, narrow passage ways or steep inclines/hills.

    Pay attention to the overall layout outside as well as inside. How old are the buildings? Are there sufficient handicap bathrooms? elevators? emergency exits? What type of parking is available for students, and can it accommodate a wheelchair van or other handicap accessible vehicle?

    #3 - Learn to advocate for yourself.

    The college you select may not be quite as accommodating as your high school was when it comes to those with physical disabilities. Know your rights, and self advocate.

    For instance, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 states that schools that receive federal funding are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities and are required to provide equal academic opportunities and reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities.

    These accommodations can vary from college to college and include:

    • Additional time for tests
    • Disability counselors
    • Handicap-accessible living accommodations
    • Support groups
    • Modified courses
    • Note taking services
    • And more

    Helpful Resources for Students with Disabilities

    The following is a brief list of resources for students with disabilities:

  • Tips for Aging in Place

    The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the number of Americans ages 65+ will increase to more than 73 million by the year 2030. The number of people ages 85+ will increase to nearly 9 million by the year 2030.

    Among this group of Baby Boomers, aging in place is the most common (and growing) trend.

    In fact, in HomeAdvisor’s “Aging in Place Survey Report,” the survey highlighted projects that are most important to those homeowners as they prepare to age in their homes. The report estimated that more than 70 percent of homeowners who are currently completing a remodeling project are doing so in an effort to make age-related improvements for either themselves or their parents.

    So, what can adults do now as they prepare to age in place? The following are some helpful and simple tips.

    Aging in Place - Tips to Keep You Safe at Home

    Kitchen

    #1 - Consider the location of your kitchen.

    Ideally, kitchens should be on the main level of your home as navigating stairs may be more difficult for someone with mobility issues.

    #2 - Adjust the height of the dishwasher.

    Adjusting the height of your dishwasher can reduce the amount of strain required when loading/unloading dishes.

    #3 - Leave space below your kitchen sink.

    Adjust the height of your kitchen sink, or consider installing a motorized sink that raises or lowers. Also consider leaving space beneath the sink. All of this allows a wheelchair user to better navigate and use the sink independently.

    Bathroom

    #1 - Consider the location of your bathroom.

    When aging in place, it is important to have at least one full bathroom on the main level of your home.

    #2 - Consider space to move.

    When thinking through bathroom design, keep in mind that space will become more important as you age. Consider the use of wheelchairs, walkers or other assistive devices, and plan for walk-in showers and more.

    #3 - Adjust the toilet height.

    One of the easiest and most important things you can do is adjust the height of your toilet. For example, a toilet that is slightly higher may make it easier on a person who is disabled or an elderly person who has had a knee replacement and has difficulty getting up from a seated position.

    Bedroom

    #1 - Consider safety handles.

    When we’re young, we don’t think about getting into and out of bed. However, as we age, this task becomes increasingly difficult and can be dangerous.

    Consider installing safety handles for increased stability.

    #2 - Consider clutter.

    Look around your bedroom as it is now. Are there things on the floor? Additional furniture that you really don’t need? Closets that are overflowing with items?

    Clear the clutter and decrease your chances of accidents or injury from objects.

    Store heavy items on lower shelves or on the floor, donate items that you haven’t used within a year or more. Consider getting rid of furniture to create more space to maneuver around your bedroom safely.

    #3 - Consider the lighting.

    As we age, our eyesight often diminishes. Make it easier to see where you are going by replacing old bulbs and/or swapping out lampshades. Increase your chances for natural lighting by replacing window dressings and keeping blinds open during the day.

    Make use of automatic night lights in the evening to help illuminate your path if you have to get out of bed for any reason.

  • 3 Tips for Aging Healthier, Smarter

    When most people think of getting older, they think of brittle bones, broken hips, medications and other health problems. However, this doesn't have to be the case! There are several preventive measures you can take to help you lead a healthier life as you get older.

    3 Tips for Better Mobility and Health While Aging

    #1 - Exercise regularly.

    It's a saying that we've all heard by now, and it's held true for years because it's true!

    As you age, your strength, coordination and balance naturally decreases. Getting regular exercise and incorporating strength training into your exercise routine a few times per week can greatly reduce your chances of losing coordination and fitness as you get older. Thus, regular physical fitness can keep you stronger and healthier well into old age - helping prevent accidents and unnecessary trips to the doctor.

    #2 - Clean up around the house.

    One of the top ways that older adults become injured is due to falls within or around the home. Decrease the clutter, and decrease your chances for a nasty spill.

    Most commonly, objects on the floor cause people to trip and fall. Also consider poor lighting, loose cords, toilet height, shower support bars, outdoor railings, and step height. Look around your home for potential hazards, and safeguard your living space to keep yourself and others safe.

    #3 - Know the effects of prescribed medication.

    As you get older, it may be necessary to take prescribed medication. If you or someone you are a caregiver to takes prescribed medication, know the side effects. For example, some medication may have different effects on men versus women. It may cause drowsiness or lack of coordination.

    Always consult with your health care provider to know what the potential side effects are.


    At Van Products, we offer a wide range of mobility products and accessories to assist those faced with physical challenges. Learn more, and contact Van Products today to speak with one of our mobility specialists!

  • Learning to Deal with a Sudden Disability

    There's a saying that "Life isn't always fair." This especially true for many who are suddenly and unexpectedly faced with a physical disability. The sudden restriction of independence or freedom can lead to anxiety over what the future may look like.

    The following are some steps and coping mechanisms to help you face your physical disability head on.

    3 Tips for Dealing with a Physical Disability

    #1 - Avoid self pity.

    It's often easier to feel bad for yourself or about your situation. Instead of looking at everything that is wrong, try instead to surround yourself with people and activities that have a positive impact in your life. Though it's not always easy, having a positive attitude goes a long way in helping you improve not just your outlook for your overall health.

    #2 - Learn how to react.

    You can't always control what happens to you in your life, but you can most certainly control how you react to it. Learn not only how to react to the things that happen to you and around you - but also learn how to react to other people's reactions to your situation.

    People who have physical disabilities sometimes face pity, animosity from others. Expect different reactions from those around you, and try not to let ignorant people upset you. Instead, practice patience. Remember that how you react to someone or something can drastically change the outcome.

    #3 - Don't be afraid to ask for help.

    Surround yourself with family and friends who are positive and upbeat and who you trust. Consider joining a support group. Identify the things about your situation and about yourself that you have and/or are struggling with, and don't be afraid to ask for the help of family, friends, or members of your support group.


    For more information about mobility products that assist those with physical disabilities, contact Van Products today.

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