I recently moved from the East to the West coast of the US. My relatives Tom and Mary from the east coast came to visit recently. Tom has had a bad back and knee for a few years now, and last time I saw him this limited his mobility substantially. At the time (~6 months ago) he walked slowly and unsteadily with a cane, had trouble getting in and out of chairs, and could climb very limited amounts of stairs. Before they arrived, I asked Tom what his comfort level was with walking and stairs so that I could adjust our plans for that. For example, my apartment is up a flight of stairs and I wanted to make sure that was ok before inviting them over. Tom said "whatever you plan is fine with me, we'll make it work" so I did my best to plan things that required minimal to moderate walking (<2-3 block distances) or stairs (1 flight or less) to be on the safe side. When Tom and Mary arrived, Mary mentioned something about Tom using a wheelchair to get around the airport and that she'd suggested he get a wheelchair for the duration of the trip but he refused. That combined with watching him navigate led me to believe his mobility is, if anything, reduced from when I saw him last.
The plan for the trip was I would join them at their resort for a few days, and then they would stay close to where I live for the last 2 days of their trip. When I arrived at the resort I asked them what the plans were and they mentioned visiting some historic sites and museums as well as doing some wine tastings, which all seemed reasonable. However, there were a series of challenges with this plan because since the region where we were was built up in the 1800s a lot of the buildings do not meet modern ADA standards and have uneven stone steps, cobblestones, etc. On the first day, navigating a single city block, Tom struggled with the steps, uneven ground, etc. and ended up waiting in the car while Mary and I did some quick shopping. The next day, we drove over an hour to visit a historic site only to find that it was only accessible on foot, not by car - it was a "ghost town" kind of place where you can walk the main street and view historic buildings. When I asked the day prior what this attraction was like Mary and Tom didn't mention this so I'm not sure if they didn't know beforehand or if they thought it would be easier to get around somehow. Mary immediately told Tom that it was too much walking for him, and when he asked if Mary and I wanted to go look around, Mary said no before I could even respond. I should add that since I don't have a car we were all riding together so I was bound a bit by what they wanted. I tried to find something else to do in the area that was more accessible but things were either closed or were activities like hiking, white water rafting, zip lines, etc. At that point I was honestly a bit frustrated since due to the travel time we weren't able to go anywhere else that day (think rural area, very spread out).
There were a series of other issues - I won't bore you with the details but one example is Mary and Tom discovering that their AirBnB accommodations did not meet ADA accessibility guidelines (the place was called something like "the cottage on the hill" but I guess they assumed that you could drive right up to the entrance). Probably the most frustrating was a historic site tour I planned - I was very clear that certain parts require walking a 1-3 block distance and are only accessible by foot, and Tom said this was ok, but once we got there Mary seemed to want Tom to stay in the car and not try to walk. She seemed concerned about him hurting himself but Tom was able to get around at the first stop ok. I asked if they were game for a second stop that had less walking (<1 block) and they said yes, but when we got there they both said "Oh you and LordL go on without us, we'll wait by the car" except this is a site I work near and can visit any time, the point was to experience it with them, so we ended up just leaving. If they had just said "oh that's probably enough walking for today" after the first site that would have been fine! It was more the lack of and inconsistent communication and Mary speaking on Tom's behalf while Tom basically didn't answer our direct questions about "Is X distance/# of stairs/etc. ok" that made thing confusing.
I know with chronic pain and mobility it can vary day to day and even hour to hour, and that it's very hard to admit you have limitations; however because of the lack of clear communication most of our plans had to be adjusted on the fly in some way, and by the end of the trip I frankly felt kind of exhausted from the constant trouble shooting. I really sympathize with the challenges of living in a world that is not ADA accessible, but I've also learned that it is very hard to plan accessible outings when the person who needs the accommodations can't or won't give general guidelines or feedback. I got the sense that Mary, as Tom's caregiver, is both frustrated and worried and errs on the side of not wanting him to get hurt, even if he wants to try to do something. I think she would have been happier if he'd agreed to using a wheelchair for parts of the trip, which would have made nearly all the things we visited totally accessible.
Ehell what could I have done differently in this situation, and if Mary and Tom want to visit again, how could I be more proactive in the future? The only thing I can think of is to only plan activities accessible by a vehicle, like a car or golf cart or train, that don't require more than moving from their car to the method of transport. In every other case where a relative's mobility has been reduced down this much they've been willing to use a wheelchair as needed to get around so this particular situation was a new challenge for me.