Trip with elderly mother


Jun 26th, 2007, 12:32 PM
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Trip with elderly mother

I have the good fortune of being able to take my elderly (mid-80s) but young-at-heart (really!) mother on a trip to Europe. She can walk well, but not up lots of stairs, etc. She is interested in Netherlands, Belgium, Southern France or Italy. I'm thinking the first two since the topography seems conducive! Any advice or tips that anyone can share for such a trip, including suggestions of moderate (not necessarily budget) hotels or guest houses in these countries whose rooms are accessible by elevator? The trip is planned for 10 -12 days in late September. Thanks.
carwahl is offline  
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Jun 26th, 2007, 12:48 PM
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No tips; but BRAVO! for taking your Mother. =D>
jbass is offline  
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Jun 26th, 2007, 01:46 PM
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I often travel with my 76 year old. We have been to Europe three times.

The biggest challenge is train travel. Some of the smaller stations do not have lifts and so I had to carry suitcases for both of us up and down, often more than once. In the summer, it is beastly.

Before narrowing down hotel choices, you need to decide on not only a country, but cities as well. Also, your mode of transport.

I suggest flying open jaw no matter where you visit and then limiting the number of times you change cities. You will need hotels/B&Bs with lifts and air conditioning. I also prefer a full service hotel when travelling with my mom so that in case of emergency, I can get help in the middle of the night.

My mother adored Italy and did not care for Paris or Marseilles

Netherlands is easy to navigate and clean and fairly uncrowded compared to other areas.

For 10-12 days, I would limit myself to three cities at the very most and choose those where taxis are readily available and also hotels where you can easily walk her back mid day to rest.

Also, in some places we shared a room and in some we did not. It was a nice break.
kfusto is offline  
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Jun 26th, 2007, 02:21 PM
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One good thing to know is that the SNCF now has a free service in about 100 train stations, similar to the wheelchair service in airports -- they will give whatever assistance is necessary to the elderly or handicapped.

The Ibis hotels all have elevators when they are not already on just one level.

I not only travel with my mother sometimes (age 82), but she also has Alzheimer's, so I am becoming quite an expert on services for such people when traveling on a budget. I have to cover hundreds more kilometers than most, because as long as the car is moving, my mother is happy. When the car stops, if it is not to eat, pee or sleep, it is of no interest to her. Let's just say that the tourist activities are minimal.
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Jun 26th, 2007, 02:34 PM
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Hi, carwhal,

what fun for you both.

Having done a bit of travelling with "older people" I strongly favour places where you and they can sightsee and sit down simulateously- ie canals and boats.

THat suggests amsterdam and bruges in northern europe, Venice and the italian lakes in the south.

happy planning,

regards, ann
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Jun 26th, 2007, 04:25 PM
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Think about taking your mother on a European river cruise. There you can get onto the ship, unpack, and that's it until the cruise is over. Most meals will be on board, rooms are comfortable, and there usually is an elevator. If you choose a company like Grand Circle Tours, which caters to 50+ Americans, on-shore excursions go at a reasonable pace.

I went on a Danube Christmas Cruise in 2006 and had a wonderful time, even given my bad knees. The guides arranged for a taxi to take me to town centers so that I could avoid the hills and cobblestones--very convenient. It's a great way to see a country without all the hassle of individual travel, which is what I'm used to.
Underhill is offline  
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Jun 27th, 2007, 08:46 AM
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Thank you so much for all of this great advice. I don't think we can afford the cruise, but it's a great idea for the future (my future!).
We have decided on Amsterdam and Brussels, so I'll now begin my search for hotels that are accessible. As I think back on Amsterdam, that may be a challenge. If you have any tips, we need hotels in the $150/double price range. Thanks again so much, this has already helped me a lot.
carwahl is offline  
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Jun 27th, 2007, 09:04 AM
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Other things you may want to add to your mental notes that travelling to Italy with my (then) 83-year old mother taught me.

1) Keep the absolute number of changes of hotels limited
2) Afternoon naps are nice, give you a breather from responsibility and set you up for a pleasant evening meal
3) Your Mum may enjoy the chance to chat over breakfast at hotels especially with those her own age, don't rush off too early
4) My Mum was much happier with bath tubs than shower-only facilities
5) this trip will mean more than you can possibly imagine to your Mum for the next decade and it may just be even more important to you 15 years from now

Blessings on your journey!
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Jun 28th, 2007, 06:21 PM
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My wife and I will be visiting Belgium in October. We are in our early 70's and have three natural knees between us. With this in mind-here is some of the info we used to set up our trip.
The Noga Hotel in Brussels is well recommended by Michelin and other guide books. will give you their website. It is near the remnants of the old fishmarket area of St. Catherines and looks interesting and within your budget.
We plan some days in Bruges which is just an hour by train. Belgium has day excursion for the over 65 crowd-just after 9 am travel. Who can argue with two for ten dollars fares.
In Bruges, the hotel Boterhuis is a small hotel with a handicapped bedroom that we have booked. is their web site.
Hope this saves you some time.
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