Here and Now

Sometimes going nowhere special can be more special than an elaborately planned outing.

I haven’t posted for a while. The summer has been lovely and sitting in front of the computer hasn’t appealed…so much for my once a week goal. Maybe now that fall has started I will do better. The joy we experienced this summer is due in large part to a few arrangements we made at my father’s house to improve access.

ksm-20160605-here_and_now-01Grandma has been well, the weather this summer was pretty good here in the Seattle area and we have reveled in the Here and Now. In August we didn’t go on any trips, unless you count going over to my dad’s on Vashon Island.

The Seattle area in August is, in my experience, the best summer has to offer anywhere in the world, and I stick close to home unless absolutely necessary.

As recently as a year ago Grandma was refusing to go over to dad’s. She couldn’t get up the steps into the house, she couldn’t use the bathroom, she couldn’t get up off his furniture…there was a lot of fear of the unknown and getting stuck in awkward ( and embarrassing) situations.

Access changes that help us get here

Over the course of the year we worked on fixes and she now really likes to go over. The holidays (and this year’s are approaching fast!) motivated us. Here is a list of what we did to improve access:

  • Dad built a very solid ramp with a railing.
  • We got bars and a raised toilet seat for the bathroom.
  • We took over a solid captain’s chair the right height for her to manage getting out of and into on her own.

What she did was swallow her pride enough to let us wheel her up the ramp. That was the single biggest change. A year ago she was adamant that she wouldn’t use a wheelchair.

Just being here

ksm-20160710-here_and_now-07This summer she enjoyed sitting at the picture window and just hanging around with the family (human and canine) as it ebbed and flowed, sailed, stand-up-paddled, and ran and got muddy on the beach.

One day we piled into the car (three dogs, three people) to go to the store. At the top of the driveway we decided to take the long way. Grandma lived on Vashon Island for 20 plus years so it was a ramble down memory lane. As a bonus a couple of good friends were out working in their yard and when hailed they came up and had a good long visit at the side of the car.

Time for Sharing (Use the comment box to respond)

  • Do you have favorite “nothing special” places where just hanging out is a fun, relaxing time?
  • What access adjustments and accommodations do you find yourself making?
  • How do you arrange family get-togethers so your elderly/mobility impaired loved one can be part of it all?

Accessibility: getting through the door

Every situation and every person is different. What are the particular challenges you have faced with accessing buildings?

I have learned that the word “accessibility” means different things to different people. The ADA provides guidelines for design. You might think that would be enough. I used to, and even was a bit put out about how onerous the guidelines could be on institutions like churches and small businesses. Continue reading “Accessibility: getting through the door”

Lessons learned part 2: Somewhere to lay our heads

This is the second post of lessons I learned from our trip to California, The story begins… and the first set of lessons is in the post: Lessons learned part 1: Flying Lessons.

Two airport/rental car notes:

  1. Travel with a pocket knife to cut the zip-tie off the walker. (Keep it close to the surface of your packed bag.)
  2. We got a mid-sized car. This was a good move: a smaller car might have done, but it was nice to have a little margin for getting the walker/wheelchair combo in and out of the trunk.

Lesson #1: The biggest lesson I learned is this: do not use a booking agency.

As mentioned in The story begins… the hotel did not have a room that matched the description I was sold. How could I be so stupid? Continue reading “Lessons learned part 2: Somewhere to lay our heads”

Lessons learned part 1: Flying lessons

This is a continuation from the post: The story begins…

The most important lesson: The day ended well, believe it or not; I did something right!

It ended well because I made the choice, even though I was tired and she was stiff (she had slept on the plane so she wasn’t tired), to take us out to dinner at one of our old favorite spots, Sherman’s deli, which has outdoor seating, and we had good food, accompanied by good memories on a beautiful warm evening. The challenges of the day faded into the background, drowned out by making a pleasant new memory to join those old ones.

Flying lessons:

Heading to the Sky with someone who is mobility impaired isn’t a cake walk.

Lesson #1: I didn’t know it, but different airports handle the wheel chair assist differently. Coming home Grandma was left in the wheel chair and we were able to go outside and enjoy the warm day while we were waiting. If she had needed to do so she could have used the restroom. At SeaTac they move the person into a seat and take off with the chair. In the future I will find out ahead of time how the airport handles it and see if we can borrow or rent the airport chair, or, worst case, bring our own walker/wheelchair combo (Duet by Drive) to the gate and gate check it, so we aren’t stranded. Continue reading “Lessons learned part 1: Flying lessons”

The story begins…

The following is a post from my personal blog:

I need to try and figure out yesterday. It was kind of like a maze dream…Dungeons and Dragons with a travel theme.

I traveled to California with my Grandmother. Hitches in the git-along seemed to be the order of the day. Continue reading “The story begins…”

Hello world!

Welcome! My name is Kate. I have traveled with my grandparents my whole life. My grandmother is now 93 and has strength and mobility issues. We just returned from a trip to Palm Springs California that was very challenging for a variety of reasons. We had a great time, largely because of Grandma’s terrific attitude and fortitude, but it could have been better. Continue reading “Hello world!”