If your traveling party includes grandparents or other older adults, here are simple guidelines to insure a healthy, trouble-free vacation.
Fall and Spring are great times to travel, especially for older adults without full time work commitments. When school is in session, popular destinations are often less crowded and less expensive. And, that gives you a chance to get out and around with your youngest grandchildren.
To enjoy a safe and healthy trip, the AGS Foundation for Health in Aging has a few suggestions.
1. Update Your Vaccinations
If you’re traveling overseas, you may need certain shots before departing up to 6 weeks before you leave, in some cases. Visit the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and click on your destinations for required and recommended vaccines.
2. Talk To Your Doctor
Explain your travel plans and discuss necessary travel precautions. Your doctor may have you come in for a checkup or to get any necessary shots.
3. Plan When To Take Your Meds
If you will be crossing time zones, ask your physician whether you should take your meds at your usual home-time-zone time, or switch, and how. Share this new schedule with relatives so that they can help you remember to take them. Also, ask if any new foods you might eat while traveling could interact with your meds.
4. Guard Against Deep-Vein Thrombosis
Older adults run a higher-than-average risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT, which happens when blood clots form in your veins, usually in your legs, and block blood flow. Sitting still for a long time on an airplane or train can contribute to DVT. But some research finds that wearing special “compression stockings” can help prevent this dangerous condition. Check with your doctor.
5. Get It In Writing
Ask your physician to give you a copy of any prescriptions you may need to replace medicine you need to carry, and write down the following medical information:
- any medical problems you have and how they’re being treated
- the names (including generic names) of any drugs you’re taking, the doses, and when and how you take them (whether you use a needle, for instance)
- the amount of each drug you need to take with you on your trip
Having all of this on paper will make it easier for you to get through Customs, and easier to get replacement drugs if you lose them. Make a copy of the list; carry one with you and keep the other in your suitcase.
6. Keep Pills in Their Original Containers
Do this with prescription and over-the-counter medicines and supplements. This will also make your trip through Customs easier, and is a much better way to safekeep medicine if you’re traveling — and possibly sharing a bathroom — with young children.
7. Carry All Necessary Medications With You
Pack your medications and overnight toiletries in your carry-on bag to avoid loss, damage or unforeseen travel delays which may separate you from your checked baggage for several days.
8. Protect Yourself From Infection
There are some common sense precautions you can take to avoid illness while traveling. Wash your hands or use an alcohol-based “hand sanitizer,” especially after spending time on a crowded plane, train, or bus, and before eating. If you are traveling with grandchildren, remember they are a magnet for all sorts of infectious diseases.
9. Watch What You Eat and Drink
In any new destination, you should watch what you eat and drink. The CDC travel site includes country-by-country information on food- and water-borne illnesses and how to avoid them.
10. Stay Hydrated
Always remember to carry bottled water if it’s not readily available throughout the day. Be sure to drink water on the plane. The air inside planes is especially dry, so ask the flight attendants for a beverage or better yet — bring a large bottle of your own water and drink it all. Getting up frequently to use the facilities will help keep the circulation flowing.
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