Taking my elderly mom and have many questions

Discussion in 'disABILITIES!' started by smallworldnh, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. smallworldnh

    smallworldnh DIS Veteran

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    Hello!
    My 83 year old mom has not been to WDW since the early 1990's. She loved it and has expressed an interest to go one more time so I really want to take her, it's one of the things that are on her bucket list that we want to cross off. We plan to go early next May, I figure it won't be too crazily crowded and the weather should be decent too, not too humid. Does Flower and Garden start at Epcot then as well? We're only going to do 3 days so we plan on mostly seeing a lot of the shows.

    We will need to get a wheelchair, she wants nothing to do with scooters. She can walk short distances, she's a little wobbly sometimes, but she absolutely can't stand in a long line. i understand they will give you a time you can come back rather than wait, correct? Would she qualify for a DAS (I think that's what it's called).

    She has a transport chair that we use but don't want to lug it with us. Can we arrange to have a chair delivered to the airport that we can use during our stay, and to return it there? We do plan to stay on site but it would be too much for her to even walk through that airport.

    As for rides, will they stop the moving platforms on rides like Spaceship Earth and Haunted Mansion, etc.?
    Small World is her very favorite but I'm afraid she might not be able to step into the boats there, as well as on rides like Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean. Do they have special cars that will let her not have to step on the seat and then into the boat?

    I was just there with my DD two weeks ago and we had a blast. This will be a much different and less manic trip for sure. I'm excited to take her and watch her excitement at all the new things she's never seen or experienced!

    Thank you for any info, hints, advice you can give us. It is very much appreciated.
     
  2. gap2368

    gap2368 DIS Veteran

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    If all her needs are to use a wheelchair then she will not need a DAS ( a DAS is for people who cannot be in a line at all.) she is welcome to use whatever device ( wheelchair ECV roller whatever) in line. there are a few that can not accommodate a mobility device and will give you a time to come back the rides that do this is JC BTMRR SM ( I got to ride behind someone that was 90 years old best ride I ever did on space.) I think IASW. and Space ship earth.

    for rides with moving walk away they can stop them or slow then the only two riders are the people mover and PP ( you can talk to the CM before you get in line increase something change when you get there but I would say this is slim to none.

    You can look at the rental company and have. wheelchair delivered to your hotel for you to use.

    You can take a wheelchair on IASW and JC but not POTCB
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
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  4. mamabunny

    mamabunny DIS Veteran

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    Flower & Garden will still be going on; if your Mom is sensitive to heat, however, she may do better if you can move the trip back into April, or even March. We were just there in late April/early May this year, and it was uncomfortably hot for me, but I am sensitive to the heat, along with my sun allergy. Regardless, be sure to help keep her hydrated; it's very easy for older folks to get a UTI, and in elderly ladies are *very* common, and can cause all kinds of problems. You can get free cups of ice water at any place that serves food at WDW.

    Typically DAS is not issued where the Guests problem can be resolved by a mobility device, and since your Mom will already be in a wheelchair, problem solved! :)

    I have never seen a wheelchair delivered to the airport (that doesn't mean it can't happen - just never heard of it happening at MCO), but she *can* use her personal chair all the way to WDW and back. Her chair will fly free, and you should be able to drive her all the way down the jetway ramp to the door of the plane. The crew will gate check her chair, and you will get it back at the door of the plane when you arrive. Ask nicely, and usually your flight attendant will be glad to let you stay put in your seats, and give you a heads up when it comes up from under the plane.

    If you don't want to use her chair at WDW for some reason, you can rent very nice chairs; in the airports you will need to use their local services for wheelchairs, and tips are appropriate. If you are taking Disney's Magical Express from the airport to the Resort, then you can just ask the rental company to meet you at the Resort.

    Sue has a post here regarding rides with moving belts, (look for post #28) but the short version is that Peter Pan cannot be stopped or slowed. Small World and Jungle Cruise both have special wheelchair cars (as does Living with the Land & the boat ride at the Mexican Pavilion in Epcot, as well as Toy Story Midway Mania at Hollywood Studios.)

    Let's see... a few other things just based on experience.. here are the things I would be thinking about/preparing for regarding both the trip itself, and actual park day(s):
    - Any meds she will need to bring along; knowing what each one is, doseage, and schedule
    - Foods; knowing what she will and won't eat, and what favorite snacks are - and is she fully independent when eating, or does she require some assistance or oversight?
    - Clothing; many older folks have clothing issues (itchy or binding clothes causing discomfort) Creating an outfit for each day in advance, complete with undergarments and shoes can help.
    - Comfort items; for example, my Mom always loved to have her crossword puzzle book and pencil with her. (and our daughter can't travel without the quilt I made her... LOL we bring the whole house with us)
    - Does she have any sensory issues; for example, will it be sensory overload just to sit *next* to a ride, like the Teacups, that spin, and have not only lots of motion, but potentially lots of sound? Can she tolerate noise and crowds for long periods of time, or will she need periodic "respite" in the room or first aid?
    - What are her cognitive abilities; can she self-identify? If she does happen to get separated, would she be able to tell a Cast Member who she was, and who you are?

    If she has toileting issues, be sure to create some bathroom kits; I can supply more info on that subject if you need it :)

    Again - hydration is super important; lots of people don't know that a silent UTI in an elderly person can actually cause symptoms consistent with the onset of dementia, so it's super important. Also, think about all of the parts of her that will be affected by the sun; wearing a hat or scarf can help prevent her scalp from getting sunburned, and she may want to wear long sleeves (and light colored, lightweight slacks or pants). Be sure to use a gentle sunblock on any exposed skin.

    Take along a brightly colored length of grosgrain ribbon or bandana to tie around the handle of the wheelchair. CMs do have to move chairs, strollers and ECVs on a regular basis to help keep walkways clear and paths open. If you have a bright colored bandana on the handlebars, it will stand out much easier in a sea of black mobility devices.

    - Think about her physical abilities in general; what does she need in the way of accommodations for the trip? Will you need a roll-in shower? Can she bathe and/or toilet herself, or will she need assistance?

    Finally, about the wheelchair - just a couple of tips to help out. First, make sure you take along bike gloves (or similar) for any member of your party who will pushing her in the chair. Rental chairs tend to be heavy and bulky to begin with, and it doesn't take long before those hard hand grips make blisters. You will be surprised at how many ramps, inclines and hills there are at WDW! Resist the temptation to hang purses, diaper bags, shopping bags, etc. off the handles of the wheelchair - it just adds to the weight, and can cause a potential tipping issue if/when she transfers out of the chair (to eat, to toilet, etc.) If she will be sitting all day - and not getting out of the chair to ride any rides, or to move to a chair to eat - then I would either also rent a gel cushion for the seat, or plan on padding the seat with towels from the hotel. Encourage her to stand every hour, if for no other reason than to straighten up and "fluff" the seat pad, and prevent serious stiffness issues.

    Remember that you will always load first and unload last on buses, monorails and boats. CMs, drivers and captains will all be super helpful; just follow their instructions for safety! :)
     
  5. redberyl

    redberyl Mouseketeer

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    We went last year from May 5-11, thinking it wouldn't be too hot, but it was brutal! Temps were 94-98 every day. So be prepared that it might be hot, and if possible maybe go a month earlier
     
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  6. arminnie

    arminnie <font color=blue>Tossed the butter kept the gin<br

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    I would also advise you to be very alert to her fatigue levels. WDW can be very draining even in a wheelchair with no walking. If she's like many of us older people we don't want to admit the fatigue - but are thankful when someone else calls it a day.

    How does she deal with heat? When my father was that age he was always freezing even when it was 95 degrees outside. It was brutal living with him. I remember going outside barefoot in a tank top and shorts in 25 degree weather to try to cool off since the house was so overheated.
     
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  7. Betty Rohrer

    Betty Rohrer DIS Veteran

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    let the airline know you have someone in your party that needs a wheelchair and that you will need it again when you arrive at Orlando. have your rental delivered to your resort. also let transportation to resort know you will need chair. as pp said check Sue's post at top of page has a lot of info you can use. Spaceship Earth has a special loading area where they can stop ramp if you need and if I remember correctly there is a boat that wheelchair loads right on boat. will have to wait for it. I am not as old as your mom but I find a cane helps me in and out of the step down boats. have a great trip
     
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  8. smallworldnh

    smallworldnh DIS Veteran

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    Mamabunny, thank you so much for all that detailed information! There are points you mentioned that we hadn't even thought of. She is prone to UTI so we'll make sure she is hydrated, good advice! Unfortunately, late April, early May is the only time we can go, maybe we'll get some of those cooling towels and there are many places we can duck into to cool off. I saw a few wheelchairs and scooters that had canopies, so I'll look to rent those. She won't need the DAS as she can get up and walk fairly well, just can't stand in line or walk long distances so that's good! I copied and printed your post also. Thanks so much again, it is very much appreciated! :)
     
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  9. smallworldnh

    smallworldnh DIS Veteran

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    She's okay with the heat, it's the humidity she has a hard time with so I'm hoping at least that won't be an issue. My father was like yours was, he was always cold no matter what. Mom is the opposite. We'll be staying onsite so we'll go back to the resort for rest as well. Thank you!
     
  10. smallworldnh

    smallworldnh DIS Veteran

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    Excellent! We can use the airports chair to get to DME and then have a chair waiting at the resort. Mom does use a cane as well so I'll make sure we bring that! Thank you!
     
  11. smallworldnh

    smallworldnh DIS Veteran

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    Will they also pick it up at the resort? We won't need to return it somewhere, correct? Thank you!
     
  12. jo-jo

    jo-jo DIS Veteran

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    Just to repeat other posts.....

    We went early May , 95 ish.......We just went two weeks ago, hot again but much more humid. That was worst.

    We used cooling towels and we had small fans that can be charged by a USB cord. I had one on the arm at the chair aimed at DH , one on the back of the chair pointed at me.

    Bike gloves , yes, yes, yes. When we first used the wheel chair, someone here mentioned bike gloves, I didn't even know what they were. I thought they were just like gardening gloves. I didn't realize the padding involved. All I can say it , GET THEM !!!! Even with them, on our first trip, I felt a hot spot starting on the base of my thumb. Adding a piece of mole skin took care of that.

    My DH does walk about 30% of the time. Any big hills and at times he just gets stiff sitting all day.

    I do recommend having a small bag on the back of wheelchair with a bottle or two of water. Easier to just take a drink or two, that to dig thru a backpack.

    If you plan on going out at night, I'd bring a tiny flash light. Just something to throw a bit of light. I find some parts of WDW very dark.

    Someone mentioned temperature. I think since someone in a wheel chair doesn't "work", they don't created body heat. Two years ago , I went with DH (72) in Nov. During the day it was low 80's. We went to see Fantasmic. The temperature dipped to the low 70's. DH was freezing. He had on a sweatshirt. Had my sweatshirt covering his chest and he had those "open and shake" hand warmers. I was sitting there in short sleeves. Ten years ago, he used to go walking every morning even during the winter when it was 45 degrees outside.
     
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  13. gap2368

    gap2368 DIS Veteran

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    Yes Drop off and pick up is at the same place,
     
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  14. Mrsjvb

    Mrsjvb DIS Veteran

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    you should fast pass the rides that she wants to do and any must do shows if applicable.
     
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  15. smallworldnh

    smallworldnh DIS Veteran

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    I never would have thought of bike gloves either, I'll definitely get some of those. And the flashlight and fan is a great idea too!
     
  16. gap2368

    gap2368 DIS Veteran

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    For my self and I know others bike glove cause blisters so be very careful with or with out them.
     
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  17. Betty Rohrer

    Betty Rohrer DIS Veteran

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    correct they pick up at resort
     
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  18. jo-jo

    jo-jo DIS Veteran

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    I just thought of another possibly dumb idea, but here goes. If you mom wants to walk some in the evening, maybe using a velcro strip, you can attach a small flashlight to her cane pointing downward. Just to give her a bit of light on her path.
     
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  19. caribbeandream

    caribbeandream Mouseketeer

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    As someone who lived in Florida for 13 years I can tell you that May temps will already be brutally hot and humid. As nice as Mother's Day in WDW sounds, I would try and go in March. 2018 dates have not yet been released but 2017 F&G started on March 1st. Your post did not mention school aged children so stick to visiting the parks in the middle of the week to avoid the local crowds. EPCOT's F&G is actually my next WDW bucket list item. I want to take my mom (now 75 yo) and we definitely *have* to stay somewhere with a kitchen where we can at least cook 1-2 meals per day for my mom. Many elderly just can't handle restaurant food 3x per day, even if you don't do fast food. You mom might be used to a much blander diet so make sure you take that into effect when thinking about meals.
     
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  20. smallworldnh

    smallworldnh DIS Veteran

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    Not a dumb idea at all!!
     
  21. smallworldnh

    smallworldnh DIS Veteran

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    Luckily, she's pretty good with her diet, as long as it's not hamburgers and fries every day. We're only going for 3 days so it shouldn't be an issue. This would be a good idea were we to stay much longer though!
     
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