Vegas with a cane
October 6, 2013 5:00 PM   Subscribe

Over the past 5 years, my Mom, who is still working but of retirement age, has had both hips replaced and major surgery on her knee. She's been keeping up with the physical therapy, and while things were looking bad for a long time, she is now able to walk with a cane and is able to go places around town by herself again. She's also, understandably, stir crazy from not having been able to walk or go out by herself for so long. She suggested the possibility of meeting her in Vegas over the holidays.

I should start by saying that while my wife, daughter and I have been to Vegas, my Mom and Dad have never been. My wife and I agree that Vegas could be a fun family vacation, and my parents could catch a direct flight from their local airport to Las Vegas where we could meet, help with transportation, and get them to a non-Casino hotel chosen for ease of access, so it seems doable on a basic level.

However, my parents would almost definitely want to go to a big casino buffet and a big show or two on the strip, and I can't quite think through the logistics of this based on my own Vegas vacations, which have all involved a whole lot of walking. I know that plenty of seniors visit Vegas and there are accessible entrances, but I'm particularly worried about my Mom walking the often long distances between casino entrance or parking to the buffet or show lobby, and then having to stand to wait in line for long periods.

What makes this awkward is that my Mom also would prefer not to use a wheelchair (and does not own one, despite all of the difficulties of the past several years, as she's pretty committed to walking), so this is a case where I'm trying to think through ways that she can just get temporary assistance and not have to haul around a wheelchair.

Can you provide advice on how this works if you've been in a similar scenario? If we get valet parking at a hotel to see a show, do the hotels have scooter rentals or trams to get from the entrance to the show or buffet? Are there special seating areas for seniors or those who cannot stand for a long time? Or is a wheelchair really the way that those who can't walk long distances get around? Finally, would there be particular places that work well for someone in my Mom's position, and other places we should avoid?

Thanks for your help!
posted by eschatfische to Travel & Transportation around Las Vegas, NV (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I just came back from a trip to Vegas and a health resort in Utah last week -- perfect timing. I'm a good walker, but I was exhausted, finding I'd done 25K+ steps every day. It's not so much the walking from hotel to hotel, as you can (and we did) take taxis, but the walking through the casinos to get where you're going inside can be a ridiculous schlep, as if you traversed the entire length of a shopping mall. For each location, I suggest you call ahead of the trip to get a sense of the locations of elevators/escalators in relation to the exits/entrances and in relation to the venues.

Yes, you can rent motorized scooters (like the Vevos) -- Caesar's, for example, let's you rent them from the bell desk for $45/day, with multi-day discounts (like $125/week?), and non-motorized wheelchairs can be rented for like $20. The Venetian and the Palazzo rent them at the bell desk too, so I'm guessing that the MGM Grand, Aria and the others should, too. I saw no trams within any hotels. However, there are monorails; one for pay on the MGM Grand/Paris side of the strip, and a free one that's considerably shorter on the other side. The for-pay one has seating; I think the free one is standing-only or mostly.

Also, we had an amazing experience at the buffet in The Cosmopolitan, called Wicked Spoon. It was significantly less expensive than Caesar's Bachanal, and whereas we waited for the better part of 45 minutes to be seated at Bachanal, we were seated immediately at Wicked Spoon. FWIW, I thought that it was the best buffet I'd visited, with perhaps less sheer volume of food, but higher quality, than I'd seen elsewhere. If your parents are eager to eat at buffets rather than regular restaurants, it's worth it to ask when their busiest times are so that your mom isn't left cooling her heels. At Caesar's, there was nowhere to sit while in line (nor, at any other buffets we saw) and that may be too wearying for her at mealtime.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 5:23 PM on October 6, 2013

That's a great question and I'm interested in seeing the answers.

Having been to Vegas several times, the walking thing sure is a drag.

The one thing I noticed was that if you could manage to stay someplace near the center of the strip, you might find that the density of interesting things in the immediate short-walk range was sufficiently high that you'd get the Vegas feel without as much of the walking. Also, a location with the Las Vegas Monorail attached might be an option, though often the walk to and from that darn thing is pretty awful.

Sadly, I'm not coming up with any particularly good spots. The Imperial Palace is nicely situated in between the Venetian (shopping, Grand Canal), plus a buffet, and isn't horribly far from the Bellagio fountains and other stuff like that ... but my impressions of it have never been very good. But it scores high for location and access to the monorail.

But if that turns out to be unattractive, and that's totally understandable, look off-strip for shows. For example, when we went to see Penn and Teller at the Rio, the parking situation was fairly reasonable and I believe that there was some closer access than the main doors for dropping off your party.
posted by jgreco at 5:24 PM on October 6, 2013

Your parents should stay at the big casino hotel that has the restaurants/buffet and show(s) they would most enjoy. They could get by with never leaving, which would minimize the required walking. If you can't do that, plan on taxis. The casinos make it difficult to leave, but it's even more difficult to leave via your own vehicle than it is via a taxi.
posted by jshort at 5:58 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

You ShoulD Be Able To Get A Temporary Placard For The Handicapped Spaces.
posted by brujita at 6:46 PM on October 6, 2013

Even just staying within a single casino-resort-hotel will require a significant amount of walking. Rent a scooter.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:04 PM on October 6, 2013

Best answer: I have mobility issues and spent a week in Vegas last year.

You could stay at the Flamingo, which is what we opted to do. It (uniquely) has doors spilling out directly onto the strip - there is none of that walking 1/2 a mile to reach the entrance of the Bellagio or traipsing 1/2 a mile through the lobby of the Venetian to reach the elevators to your floor. It also has a monorail station on property, which is ace. We still took a lot of cabs up and down the strip to avoid walking, though honestly I wish we had doubled the number (my husband likes to walk.)

If staying at a casino hotel isn't an option, then stay somewhere else and... take a LOT of (slightly more expensive) cabs.

Or rent a scooter. Or rent a 2-wheeler.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:04 PM on October 6, 2013

You make no mention of your mom and dad's mental faculties, so I assume they're both still sharp. You also don't mention that your mom has asked you to find her these accommodations, so I'm assuming she hasn't.

I'm going to take a different tact, and suggest you butt out of this situation. She may very well surprise you with how mobile she is. She might struggle or take longer and be pretty tired at the end of the day, but at this point she is either going to deal with it, or live a very sheltered life. She sounds to be choosing the first option.

Let her set the pace. Don't structure the vacation so tightly that she's got to get to point B by X o'clock, or that she can't take a nap before dinner. Sure, you might want to keep a few scooter rental numbers in your pocket in case things take a turn for the worse. But she seems to be pretty determined to keep her dignity. Listen to her.

Now, there may be a time, say when she's 85 and easily confused, where listening to her is no longer in her best interest, but this sounds like a very safe situation for her to test her abilities in.
posted by fontophilic at 5:56 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hi, both of my folks use canes and my Mom had knee replacement surgery.

Your Mom is going to need to get rid of that whole, "no wheelchair" thing in a hot hurry. Starting at the airport.

You can request a wheelchair from the airline she's flying and they'll take her from the ticket counter to her gate. They'll also do the same for her from the gate to baggage claim in Vegas. DO NOT let her beg off from this. McCarran Airport is HUGE and unmanageable. Both of my parents do the wheelchair thing, think Cleopatra and her litter. There's no way your folks can manage baggage and a mobility issue through modern airports. The wheelchair folks get a $20 tip, so factor that in.

I nth a scooter rental in Vegas. It will make the difference between having a fun family vacation and a sad, sore Mom in the room feeling forlorn.

I will say that if you choose to use cabs, they are cheap and plentiful, or even if you rent a car, valet is also cheap. But no matter what, you will shlep through casinos and it's just awful if you have aches and pains and don't get along very well mobility wise.

At least discuss the options with your Mom and be prepared to rent the scooter if need be.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:10 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Are you sure you are current on her physical abilities? Just having a double hip replacement and knee surgery doesn't prevent being able to walk around airports and casinos. Many people who have had that sort of surgery never use a wheelchair outside of the hospital, and only use a cane until recovered enough to do without it. Using a scooter or a wheelchair might be very disheartening to someone who has been improving.

When making room reservations, try to get a room close to the elevators, and an elevator that will be close to where you can get a taxi.

Forget about the monorail, it isn't going to be much cheaper than a taxi and it's not all that close to anything.

Check ahead of time for shorter routes or other entrances closer to the shows and buffets, the casinos try to send you past all the gaming tables, and the beaten path is likely to be a much longer way around. There might be an entrance other than the main one you'd want to be let off at.

I didn't find myself in many lines in Vegas. Depending on when in the holidays you are there, it might not be prime tourist season. Go to buffets in off hours and the lines will be shorter. If there's a line to pick up tickets, let her sit down while you get them. If you have reserved seats for a show, you don't need to stand in a line to get in the door ASAP, just sit and wait until the initial line dies down.

Check before you plan your trip on which days will be "dark" for things you want to see, many shows take some time off during the holidays.

I wouldn't encourage your mom to use a wheelchair or scooter, if she decides life is just easier doing that than walking, it's going to be terrible for her in many ways, and you'll later have terrible memories of encouraging such things on what's meant to be a fun family vacation you'll look back on fondly.
posted by yohko at 1:56 PM on October 7, 2013

Oh, even if you drive to Vegas, it's easier and faster to take taxis around the strip. She's more likely to have to stand and wait with valet parking.
posted by yohko at 1:58 PM on October 7, 2013

My memories, and experience of, Vegas are that nothing is close by or a short walk. Even if you "just" going to the casino next door or across the street getting there can be quite a hike. Every building is huge, the blocks outside are long and you can't just cross the street, you have to cross via the overpasses. It can be tough for folks who are completely mobile; I can't imagine navigating the area with the need for a cane.

Could you rent a scooter locally to avoid expensive charges at misc. casinos?

Good luck!
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 1:37 PM on October 8, 2013

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