A while back I wrote about putting grab bars in my bathroom to help prevent falls in a post called “Making Home Safer For Seniors”. I recommend that everyone do this when they feel the need. Sometimes we equate such things with getting older and we put it off because “we’re not THAT old”! In fact, it took me till mom was 90 before I finally convinced her to get grab bars.
Well, last week I was traveling and stayed in a nice hotel in another city. It was an expensive hotel though somewhat old. It had been refurbished over the years, but I found I had difficulty getting in and out of the bathtub. The tub was deep and the only grab bar was a tiny one angled in the back.
After the second day when I was afraid I might fall, I decided to call the front desk and ask if there was another room with better grab bars. I was told I could be moved to a better room and someone would come help me.
The room I got was one specially redone to meet the requirements of the disabilities act I believe. It had a huge bathroom with 2 rows of grab bars and others in addition to that. Also, the tub wasn’t as deep. It was much easier to get in and out of this one without fear of falling.
The room itself was more sparsely furnished, probably to make it easier to get around with a wheelchair or walker though I didn’t have either. The clothes closet had a lower rod so a person in a wheelchair (or a short lady like me) could more easily reach it to hang my clothing.
The strange thing was that the room itself was not well-lit with only one light near the bed. Overall though, I wouldn’t complain about the lack of a desk or an extra lamp because it was so nice to have the sturdy grab bars in the bathroom.
After my stay in that hotel, I traveled to another city where I met some of my children. My son and I stayed in the same hotel and I had not asked for a special room. Nevertheless, this hotel was much newer and the grab bars in all the bathrooms were sufficient for me to use the bathtub without worry.
In addition to the grab bars in the hotel, I found I had more difficulty traveling by train that I had in the past. Now, I have always had to struggle to balance my suitcase and carry on case or backpack and purse while getting to and from the train. However, this time I found I had to ask for assistance getting over the gap between the train and the station with my luggage. I also asked if I could take the elevator to the track a bit early so I wouldn’t get caught in the rush when the train arrived. The security lady at the train station said I should note when I buy my next ticket that I need assistance boarding and they will have someone to assist me both while boarding and exiting the train.
This was a learning experience for me. I have been traveling alone for many years, and each year I struggled a little more to balance my luggage and my shaky legs. I have paid porters at some stations to help me board when I traveled in busy cities. But this time I realized I can just ask for help from Amtrak.
This was the first time I even considered that I might need special accommodation because of changes that have occurred as I got older. I am glad that I asked though as it made my stay easier and I will be more likely to ask for help the next time I travel – both from Amtrak or an airline and from the hotel when needed.