THE BLOG
09/27/2013 04:30 pm ET Updated Nov 27, 2013

Dear Hotel Manager: Are Your Rooms Booomer-Proofed?

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(Photo Credit: Microsoft Clipart)

Why hotel managers need to roll out the (non-slip) welcome mat for boomer travelers...

One of my close friends (a boomer like me) recently visited an upscale spa resort that shall remain nameless. She had just popped into the shower in her room after an exhausting workout and then stepped outside the stall to reach for bar of soap that was sitting atop the nearby sink. Only in hindsight did she realize she should have been more careful. Her wet feet slid across the slick marble floor, and she wound up in the local ER with a broken wrist--having to cut her trip short.

An accident can happen to anyone of any age but as we age, we are more prone to falls than we were when we were younger, and rehab (as was the case with my friend) is never as rapid as when we slipped on the ice as a kid or fell off a jungle gym.

According to Kaiser Permanente, the nation's largest non-profit managed healthcare provider, one out of three adults age 65 and older fall each year. With 11,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day, that's a lot of potential for falls and injuries.

Boomer travelers transform travel

The boomer generation (now between 49 and 67 years) is one of the most coveted markets in the travel industry: Many of us have a lust for travel (as singles, couples and multigenerational groups), tend to be more adventurous travelers, and have deeper pockets than the generations before and after us.

As a result, a number of recent articles in print (New York Times: In Travel We're All Boomers Now) and online (Next Avenue: The Hottest Trends in Boomer Travel) have documented the ways this generation has transformed the travel landscape. To capture this lucrative market estimated at $157 billion per year, every segment of the travel industry is responding with bespoke itineraries and enticing hotel room amenities. But what about the basics?

Back to basics

With the goal of reducing falls, Kaiser Permanente has suggested six tips to help minimize unnecessary safety hazards at home. Each of these tips surely applies to the hotels, resorts and other properties we make "our home" when traveling and should be basic standards for boomer guests. Their suggestions include:

1 - Reduce tripping hazards such as throw rugs, raised doorway thresholds, or loose carpet.

2 - Keep paths clear of electrical cords and clutter.

3 - Add grab bars where necessary -- in hallways, stairways and bathtubs.

4 - Add a rubber bath mat in the shower or tub.

5 - Improve lighting throughout the house and use night lights in hallways and bathrooms.

6 - Keep a phone and flashlight by the bed.

Unfortunately, I can't even count the number of times I've been in hotel rooms that were too dark (although they had atmosphere). And admittedly, although I carry a flashlight when traveling, I never have the good sense to place it close to my bed. As boomer travelers age, we are going to have to realize that staying safe requires a shared commitment and partnership between hoteliers and travelers.

  • Do you take any safety precautions when staying at a hotel?
  • Do you have any suggestions to add to this list of what hotel managers or their guests need to do to reduce the risks of accidents?

Irene S. Levine, PhD is an award-winning travel writer and member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). You can follow her blog for travelers over 50 at More Time To Travel or on Twitter.

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