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Old 03-22-2013, 12:06 PM   #1
cmdg
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Elderly grandmother on trip

Hi everyone, DH and I are excited to take our 2.5 year old to WDW this summer. I'll be 27 weeks pregnant, too, so it should be exciting!

My aunt and cousins will be meeting us, and had planned to bring my grandmother as well. We have a few concerns though and wonder if anyone has had similar experience. A few years ago, my grandma had a stroke and lost quite a bit of her mobility (she is a bit stubborn and won't do pt) and her mind is just not the same. She moved in with other family members and rarely will leave her room. She'll go to church and on Sundays she'll occasionally go to my aunts for dinner, but she doesn't move around much at all, even at home. So this will be a big trip for her.

She uses oxygen at night and she'll need a wheelchair to get around. She also won't be able to go on rides -- she is really immobile and my aunt thinks even transferring her from the chair to a ride will be really difficult. And then my aunt is worried about her waiting in the wc while they are on rides.

Any experience with the very elderly at WDW? Thanks!
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Old 03-22-2013, 02:10 PM   #2
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I hope this doesn't come across wrong - but does grandma really want to go on this trip? It sounds like maybe some of the rest of you have decided to bring her. Really stop and think about whether she'd enjoy herself; maybe she's a people-watcher and just enjoys "being there" without participating - but if she is as reclusive as it sounds she may not enjoy the crowds and chaos.

That said, does grandma have no interest in rides? Or you just think the transfer will be difficult? There are some rides she can remain in the wheelchair without transferring. See the FAQ sticky at the top of this forum for a list of rides requiring transfer.

If she's not riding, it sounds like the rest of you are concerned about her being alone. You have a couple of options...grandma can enter the queue with the rest of the party and then use the "chicken exit" if you think she'll be OK alone for the duration of a short ride. On rides with a height restriction, you'd likely be getting a rider swap for your 2.5 yr old anyway. But if there is no height restriction you may need to plan FPs and split up. Depending on the size and interests of your party, you may be splitting up anyway.

Grandma should be able to join you at shows without transferring, however the party will likely need to split to have 1 or 2 sit with grandma and the rest of the group sit in another row.

Enjoy your vacation!
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Old 03-22-2013, 09:47 PM   #3
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It's very important to think about what is in Grandma's best interests. She may not be able to tolerate Florida's heat and humidity for more than very short periods. Can Grandma reliably tell you if something hurts and where and will she be able to avoid dehydration? Perhaps a visit to a respite care facility while her usual caregivers are away would be a more enjoyable, or at least tolerable, experience for her.
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Old 03-22-2013, 09:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmdg View Post
Hi everyone, DH and I are excited to take our 2.5 year old to WDW this summer. I'll be 27 weeks pregnant, too, so it should be exciting!

My aunt and cousins will be meeting us, and had planned to bring my grandmother as well. We have a few concerns though and wonder if anyone has had similar experience. A few years ago, my grandma had a stroke and lost quite a bit of her mobility (she is a bit stubborn and won't do pt) and her mind is just not the same. She moved in with other family members and rarely will leave her room. She'll go to church and on Sundays she'll occasionally go to my aunts for dinner, but she doesn't move around much at all, even at home. So this will be a big trip for her.

She uses oxygen at night and she'll need a wheelchair to get around. She also won't be able to go on rides -- she is really immobile and my aunt thinks even transferring her from the chair to a ride will be really difficult. And then my aunt is worried about her waiting in the wc while they are on rides.

Any experience with the very elderly at WDW? Thanks!
I have to agree with the previous poster that it does not sound like she would enjoy a trip to WDW.

You wrote that she rarely leaves her room, but at WDW, she would not have a familiar room of her own.
You also wrote she is occasionally going for dinner to a place she knows with people she knows. But at WDW, she would be eating out for every meal in places she doesn't know with multiple people around.

That really doesn't sound like a good situation to me. If the people she is living with are coming on the trip, I personally would see if you can get someone familiar to her to stay with her at her home. It sounds like she would be much happier with that.

If you do decide she is coming, there are till many things she would be able to do, as the previous poster mentioned. If you did not find the disABILITIES FAQs thread, it is near the top of this board, or I have a link in my signature. Posts 18-22 on page 2 of that thread has information about transfers and attractions with wheelchair accessible ride cars that she would be able to stay in the wheelchair for.

There is also information about travel with oxygen, air travel and renting wheelchairs in the disABILITIES FAQs thread. Post one of that thread is an index that tells where to find what information.

If she goes, you need to be prepared also that she may refuse to leave the room. Or, if you can get her to a park, she may want to go back to the room after only a few hours.
If the aunts are concerned with her being alone for a few minutes while people are on rides, she certainly could not vein the room by herself. Is she likely to wander away? Get out of the room at night and try to get back home?

I would think of all of those sorts of questions before making any further plans.
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Old 03-22-2013, 10:37 PM   #5
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I have to agree with everyone that's posted so far.

I think of it 2 ways. The way the everyone has said so far, is it even something grandma wants to do? The other way is, assuming there's a place for grandma to go while everyone is on the trip (a way for her to stay home) that's doable, wouldn't it be better for her to do that while you all go and have fun and you don't have to worry about accommodating her? It's not a matter of being selfish, at least to me. I just can't imagine planning this big trip to Disney where everyone wants to have fun and then being like "Well Grandma's had it so we're all done".
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Old 03-23-2013, 09:16 AM   #6
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I don't think grandma would enjoy the trip either. I am an older woman (though maybe not as old as grandma--I'll be 68 in 2 weeks) and I have some challenges. I will not be making more trips to WDW as the trip down would be too difficult and the amount of time I could spend in the park is becoming shorter and shorter. I used to be able to go until lunch. Now I don't think I could go that long.

I spend a lot of time alone by choice. I live in an apartment for independent seniors and they have something planned for each day. If you don't want to do that, there are usually people at the gazebo or porch area or in the clubhouse that you can sit and talk to. There have been many days that the only time I got out was to ride my ECV to get the mail and give my service dog some exercise. I just didn't have the energy to do anything else.....and I was exhausted after just that little bit.

Just buying groceries is exhausting. (And I ride the store scooter for that.) My family often doesn't understand (although they know my challenges.) If I had a dollar for every time I've heard "If you just get out more, you will feel better" I'd be rich!! And no, I am not depressed. I am in great spirits, just don't have the energy anymore!!!
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Old 03-23-2013, 04:09 PM   #7
SueM in MN
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Some more thoughts if she does go -
Plan some trial outings.
It could be shopping in a mall or to something like a zoo or some other kinds of entertainment facilities in your area.
Plan some restaurant trips just so she gets the feel for those. At WDW, you might be eating at table service or counter service restaurants. Trying both kinds would give you some information for planning where to eat.

Use some of the trip planning resources on the Internet. Sites like easywdw.com, touringplans.com and tourguidemike.com can give you ideas regarding which park is likely to be least busy. You don't have to follow the touring plan exactly, but just knowing which park is likely to be busiest will save you some grief.

Look at the attractions for each park and decide with her which attractions she is interested in seeing. I pointed out some resources in the disABILITIES FAQs thread about which have wheelchair accessible ride cars and how difficult a transfer each is. If there are some she wants to try where she would need to transfer, you want to alternate those with ones where she can stay in the wheelchair.

If she has a time of the day that is better, that would be the best time to go to the parks - early mornings and late afternoon to evening tend to be least busy.
Avoiding the middle of the day would also avoid the hottest part of the day.

She may prefer to come to only some or only one park and stay in the room otherwise. If so, decide who will go back with her or stay with her I ahead of time. You don't want to be discussing it in front of her to avoid making her feel like a bother.
Someone should be assigned to watch her for signs of fatigue, even if she is capable, she may not want to 'spoil the fun' by saying she is tired. But, if someone else says they are tired and going back to the room, she is more likely to agree.

There is a sitter company that provides care for children, but also the elderly. Several posters have reported using them in the past and were pleased with the service.
The company is:
Fairy Godmothers
(407) 277-3724
4775 Anderson Rd
Orlando, FL 32812

They don't have a website or Facebook site, just a phone book listing.
You might want to consider using them to give the person with her all the time a break. She may be OK with a 'sitter' or may not like the idea at all.
If she gets confused at times at home, be aware that many elderly people may experience more confusion when taken out of their familiar environment.

I don't know where you are staying, but I would suggest a place that is easy to get to the park you plan for her to spend the most time at. You also might want to consider a DVC one or 2 bedroom villa, Family Suite at one of the All Stars resorts or a cabin at Fort Wilderness. Any of those would give a living room type area that would be nicer for the time during the day than a traditional hotel room.

You might also want to look into the activities at the resort because there may be some things going on that she would enjoy.

If she hasn't traveled by air lately, you want to make sure she is prepared for the screening. If she is not able to stand, she will get a pat down.
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Old 03-23-2013, 11:36 PM   #8
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Thanks

Thank you for all the thoughts and advice!

It may seem odd, but my grandma REALLY wants to go on the trip. While it was my Aunt's idea originally to meet us there, my grandma got right on board. I have tried to talk to her a few times about the difficulty, but she just has her mind made up. I think a big part of it is that my extended family would travel to WDW nearly every summer, so there are a lot of happy memories there. Also, she doesn't get to see us very often, and she really wants to see our son enjoying WDW.

That said, I know it won't be easy. I suggested she head to the Dr. in the next few weeks (with my Aunt, who will be traveling with her) to talk through the logistics. With congestive heart failure (I don't know what stage, but I know she is on meds and is supposed to be doing oxygen at night, although she doesn't like it so won't do it), we need to be sure she is safe to fly and that my Aunt knows what to expect etc. I'll of course be there to help, but I'll also be running after our 2.5 year old and will be 27 weeks pregnant.

Thanks again for all the advice.
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Old 03-24-2013, 09:17 PM   #9
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If you decide to take her, could you take a caregiver along? Pregnant and a toddler is ALL you can handle. It would be up to your aunt to care 24/7 for her. I would not be comfortable allowing her to wait on you for rides. There are some rides that she can stay in her chair but is your aunt or you willing to by pass the others? When my dad's health was declining, we often took a caregiver places with us. Never WDW but other places. It allowed us to enjoy him and each other without wearing us completely out with total care and we knew we had someone along that could handle the medical stuff for us.
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Old 03-25-2013, 12:02 AM   #10
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Quote:
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If you decide to take her, could you take a caregiver along? Pregnant and a toddler is ALL you can handle. It would be up to your aunt to care 24/7 for her. I would not be comfortable allowing her to wait on you for rides. There are some rides that she can stay in her chair but is your aunt or you willing to by pass the others? When my dad's health was declining, we often took a caregiver places with us. Never WDW but other places. It allowed us to enjoy him and each other without wearing us completely out with total care and we knew we had someone along that could handle the medical stuff for us.
That is a great idea. DH and I definitely can't afford it, and I don't think my aunt can either, but maybe we can find a way. That is something we should look into! I know they had hoped my older cousin would also come along to help out.
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