Hotel rooms

Are hotel rooms that advertise themselves as “senior friendly” really up to the task? | When making a hotel reservation, consider the needs of the older traveler

The elderly have not given up on traveling this year. Some 67% of over-50s plan to get away from it all in 2022, up from 54% last year. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, that was a significant number of departures to visit family, vacation, or just a day trip at least 50 miles from home. According to AARP research, seniors will take an average of at least four out-of-town trips this year.

It’s brilliant and logical. It’s hard to cross adventures off a to-do list when you work 9am to 5pm, so as you approach retirement, travel planning begins. But how safe are hotel rooms for older people, especially those with walking or mobility issues?

Suitable for the elderly?

Some hotels claim to be “age-friendly” and have rooms reserved for guests with disabilities, but the hotel’s definition may not meet the need. As age increases, disabilities also increase. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, in the United States, 15.3 million households aged 65 and over have “domestic activity limitations” and 9.6 million have mobility limitations. .

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Climbing stairs, getting in and out of bed, walking from a car to the hotel lobby, and even standing to be addressed by hotel reservation staff can be a challenge for people with reduced mobility. The issue is even more complicated if an older person has cognitive impairment.

These issues may not be significant if you are traveling with a companion, but before booking a room consider your needs or the needs of the mobility impaired travel companion. Don’t assume a hotel room is senior friendly just because it’s listed as such. Ask questions before booking the room.

A family has booked an ‘age-friendly’ hotel room for a grandmother in town for her granddaughter’s wedding. Unfortunately, Grandma missed the rehearsal dinner. Her room was senior-friendly, but its fifth-floor location was not, and the nonagenarian could not climb stairs when the elevator broke down. Imagine the inconvenience the next day when firefighters arrived to drop off Grandma, fully dressed in wedding attire, in the lobby so she could attend the wedding.

Definitions vary

Hotels aren’t always as good for the 65+ as they advertise, and that’s not necessarily on purpose. Their definition of “age friendly” may be insufficient because they assumed that the local code application definition was sufficient. For some people it is, and in all honesty, hotels can’t cater to every person’s every need. However, there are a few standards older travelers should keep in mind before booking a room.

  • Always book rooms on the first level.
  • Is there seating in the lobby?
  • Concierge Service?
  • Does the bathroom have safety bars near the toilet and around the bath or shower?
  • Does the bath or shower floor have rubber pads?
  • Can a walker fit in the bathroom with enough room to turn around?
  • Are the floors in the room and inside the room carpeted? Catching a toe on the mat can cause falls, and the mat is also difficult to navigate with wheelchairs and walkers.
  • Is the lighting bright and can the lights be turned on and off on the wall?
  • Can you get an adjoining room if traveling with a parent, grandparent or other senior?

Hotel stays are fun when you have the ability to enjoy them, and most hotels seem to make an effort to appeal to those 65 or older. It would be nice if the rooms had user-friendly TV remotes, or if those restaurants and point of interest guides had big print. Maybe one day. In the meantime, our due diligence when booking will help make the stay enjoyable.

Happy safe travels!


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