By Donna Mischke, Director of Family Services at Concierge Care Advisors
Traveling is fun and exciting. Summer is usually the perfect time to experience adventures but can be stressful for the most seasoned of travelers. As we age, we may not adapt as well as when we were younger. Being prepared and planning is the key to a successful trip. If you are traveling as a senior citizen or with someone older, there are many factors to consider. Are you traveling with a loved one who has dementia or Alzheimer’s? Are there any health problems or limitations? Whether car, train, boat or plane, a senior can always enjoy a wonderful trip and explore new places, but the key is being prepared. Here are a few tips that might help:
Talk to your doctor before traveling. Make sure the doctor clears you to travel. Seniors should make sure they are up to date on all vaccinations. This is important if you are leaving the country. Specific countries have recommended vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control recommend getting an up to date tetanus booster before traveling. Let the doctor know your plans. If an emergency happens, your doctor may be able to assist depending on the circumstances. Also, check with your health insurance company and find out what your options are if there is an unexpected illness or emergency.
If you are traveling by plane, train or boat call ahead and let them know of any medical conditions or circumstances. TSA has made several changes over the years that make traveling easier for seniors. If you are 75 years or older, you will not have to remove your shoes and light jacket while going thru security. If you have a pacemaker or other medical devices, you can receive a pat down instead of going thru the scanner. If you are in a wheelchair or need one for any reason, you can request that as well as requesting assistance going thru security. Airports and other travel vehicles are more than equipped to help seniors now.
Have a list of prescription medications and make sure to have plenty on hand. You will always want to pack a few extra days’ worth of medicines you take just in case of travel delays or other emergencies. Include your medication schedule along with the list.
Call ahead to the place you are staying once you arrive and make sure they know of any health limitations or special circumstances you may need. They may also be able to help direct you if medical equipment will be needed during the stay.
Always ask for discounts. Senior travelers can often receive a discounted fare and other perks. Never be afraid to ask for discounts as many places do offer these.
If you are traveling overseas, consider purchasing a supplemental travel health insurance just in case of an injury or illness. Many health plans, including Medicare will not pay for medical care outside of the United States. If you are traveling in the U.S., research and know where the closest medical facilities are and where you can be seen if necessary.
As always, be aware and practice smart travel. Be aware of strangers. Unfortunately, we live in a world with a small percentage of people that will take advantage if given the chance. Don’t travel in questionable areas, especially at night. Always wear your seatbelt. Research and know your area. Try to not travel with lots of cash, jewelry or other valuables. Always keep your wallet, purse and phone on your body and secured if possible.
Plan for downtime and breaks in your travel schedule. Enjoy yourself and relax. Sure there may be many things to see and do but ultimately this is a vacation and should include some much needed relaxation.
Overall, traveling can be a rewarding experience and a time to make wonderful memories but planning is essential to avoid mishaps. Knowing the area ahead of time and calling to arrange necessities will make the trip more enjoyable for everyone involved.