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Dining out? Make sure it’s senior friendly

May 25, 2012
by Sandra Hoban
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Nothing is more relaxing than a leisurely lunch with friends. I was at a local chain restaurant the other day and, while the meal was enjoyable, I wondered how challenging and/or frustrating this venue would be for older people.

Dining is the ideal way to socialize. Recognizing this, many activity calendars regularly feature outings to favorite area eateries. Residents are eager to try a highly touted establishment that they’ve read about or they might like to sample new cuisine. However, selecting an appropriate venue for a senior dining experience takes some forethought.

To make it a great off-site experience for residents, activity directors should visit the restaurant prior to the luncheon, especially if it’s not a standard cookie-cutter layout—Applebee’s has steps, Cracker Barrel does not.

Is the restaurant noisy? If so, the diners may not be able to hear each other during conversation. If it’s too dark, reading the menu can be difficult. To add to its ambience, some restaurant menus are oversized, which makes them difficult to hold and then, the print size and style not be geared to aging eyes.  I know that I have to hunt for my reading glasses to decide on what to order.

Another pitfall to avoid is the presence and number of steps. I’m sure most of you have been to a restaurant where you can barely see the steps—low light and dark carpeting. A tumble could lead to serious consequences. Booths positioned on top of a platform should be avoided for obvious reasons.

Where are the restrooms? Are they conveniently located and easily accessible? A walk of 50 feet for someone with mobility challenges can seem like mile. It’s a good idea to request seating for your group near them.

Look at the table and chairs. Will the table height accommodate a wheelchair? Are the chairs sturdy with armrests?  Too high? Too low?

While many establishments are handicapped accessible, make sure that that accessibility doesn’t begin and end at the door.

I’m sure that those of you who accompany your residents on these excursions have run into these and other problems that I haven’t mentioned. I’d really like to know what those problems were and how they were resolved. With planning and familiarity with the restaurant, every resident lunch outing can become an adventure.

Bon appétit.

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Sandra Hoban

Managing Editor

Sandra Hoban

@SandiHoban

www.ltlmagazine.com

Sandra Hoban has been on Long-Term Living’s editorial staff for 17 years. She is one of...