Taking simple steps can help make trips safe and healthy for seniors. Along with contacting a travel agent, seniors should consult their physician before taking a summer trip, recommends the American Geriatrics Society’s Foundation for Health in Aging.
Let your doctor know your travel plans and find out if he or she recommends that you take any special precautions while away. Your doctor may want you to come in for a checkup. If you will be crossing time zones in your travels, ask your doctor whether you should take your medications on your regular home time-zone schedule or whether you should adjust to your vacation time-zone, and if so, how. And if you think you will be trying new foods on vacation, ask your doctor if they might interact with your medications.
No one wants to think about having medical problems during a vacation, but if you were to become ill while away you will have an easier time getting the medical care you need if you plan ahead. This planning includes asking your doctor to provide you in writing the following information about your medical care:
- Medical problems you have and how they are being treated
- The drugs you are taking, the doses, and when and how you take them
- The amount of each drug you need to take with you on your trip
- The names and contact information for all of your physicians
The medication information will make it easier for you to get through customs and easier to get replacement drugs if you lose any while vacationing. Make a copy of the information so you can carry one with you and keep the other in a suitcase. So you aren’t separated from them, keep all of your medications in a carry-on bag. Keep all of your pills in their original containers. This practice also will help you get through customs and help you get refills should your stay be unexpectedly extended.
To help make your travels as relaxing, unrushed and problem-free as possible call your travel agent or transportation provider to reserve special services to shuttle you comfortably and safely to and from your plane, train or cruise ship. Many carriers allow seniors and families with children to board first, giving them ample time to settle in before other travelers. When these services are available, take advantage of them to make your vacation as enjoyable as possible.
Additional advice to help seniors enjoy a healthful vacation:
- If you are going to be seated for long periods of time on an airplane or train, wear special compression stockings. Research shows that these stockings can help prevent deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), a dangerous condition for which older adults are at higher-than-average risk. In cases of DVT, blood clots form in the veins, usually in legs, and block blood flow. Check with your doctor if compression stockings are recommended for you.
- To protect against infection wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after spending time on a crowded plane, train, or bus, and before eating
- Particularly when traveling abroad, be careful what you eat and drink. The Centers for Disease Control’s travel website, features country-by-country information on food- and water-borne illnesses and how to avoid them.
- Dehydration is a risk on airplanes, where the inside air is dry. Purchase a large bottle of water in the terminal before boarding your plane and drink as you become thirsty, or ask for water when the flight attendant offers a drink.
- If you will be traveling overseas, you may need to get vaccinations before departing, in some cases up to six weeks in advance. Visit the CDC website, and click on your destinations for required and recommended vaccines.