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Senior Needs at Stadium

A new university football stadium opened recently and it is about 15 minutes from my retirement community. I've taken my residents to college basketball games and to professional baseball games in the past, and I know there is an interest for such outings with my sports minded residents.

I contacted the group representative at the university and selected out tickets based upon a few important facts; that the bus drop off location should be close to our seats and that there would be limited steps to our seats.  I explained that this was a group of senior adults and that it was very important for their safety and piece of mind. The rep seemed to understand and our transaction was completed. What follows are the details of a stressful outing and the lessons that I learned.

When I got to the stadium, I told the driver to go to Gate 5 as I was instructed. When we got there, the staff told us that we needed to go to Gate 6 instead. Right away, I started worrying if it was going to be closer to our seats or further away.... and of course it was further away. Once we were in, I asked for directions to our section and was sent on my way with the residents following close behind me. I quickly realized that the only way to our section was going to be by going up stairs, and was thrilled to locate the elevator on our way to our section. But, it was not meant to be because the elevator was broken! 

Thank goodness I did have a small group with me. Most of them were fine going up the approx. 30 steps that were involved. I had one resident who was very upset, but with the support and encouragment of her husband and me, she got up the stairs. My group waited for our arrival at the top of the stairs and I'm glad that they did. Our seats were in a section that was another 5 steps up to get into the section and then another 7 steps up to our row. Well, of course I moved quickly to Plan B, and decided that we are going to sit in seats that we do not have tickets for - which usually work out fine at the other venues that we've been to. We selected the section below us and prayed every time someone came into the section. I even asked if people would mind sitting in different seats so that we could stay in "ours" - since we are seniors that can't handle the steps easily. Everyone was great about it and we were able to stay seated. This is not something I am proud of, but felt like I needed to do for the safety and happiness of my group.

This stadium was very strange to me. There were no ramps to get up and down anywhere in the stadium and there were no trash cans or rest rooms upstairs. When the woman who had a hard time with the steps needed to go to the restroom, she and her husband went down stairs. When I realized they were gone, I went down stairs to find her very upset about having to go back up again. I asked the staff at the stadium if there was anywhere that they could sit without steps and they told me about the end zone area... but the resident would not walk there (even after I explained that it was half way back to the bus).  She ended up sitting in a chair that we received from a booth nearby in an area where they could not see the game. I continued to check on them throughout the game, and 15 minute after leaving them, I found them with the paramedics and the husband saying that they would call a taxi to go home.

I called our bus driver on his cell phone and he came back to get the woman and her husband. After taking them home, he came back and got us. I did find another elevator that was on the other side of the field that took us down and closer to Gate 6.

I share this with you so that you can learn by my experience. What I learned is that the next time I go to a place, especially a stadium, I should have assumed the worse, and promoted it to the residents by saying that they "must be a good walker, and stair climber" to prevent the situation that I had. I also made notes about this on my program worksheet in the evaluation section, so that I would remember the pros and cons of the outing. And of course, I made a note about what section number we did like instead of the section that we had tickets for.  These are good thoughts to keep in mind for other outings you may go on. All and all, the residents who stayed for the whole game really enjoyed their evening at a college football game, and I will say that they were thankful for the extra running around that I did to make the night safe and enjoyable.

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