Houston – Preparation is key when planning for any type of trip. However, when traveling with older adults, be sure to take extra precautions to ensure safe travels, said an expert at Baylor College of Medicine (www.bcm.edu).
“Planning is everything, and one needs to plan for every possible accommodation to an elder’s needs,” said Dr. Robert Roush, associate professor of medicine-geriatrics (http://www.bcm.edu/medicine/geriatrics/?pmid=7761) at the Huffington Center on Aging (http://www.bcm.edu/hcoa/index.cfm) at BCM.
The first priority should be medications an elderly traveler may need on the trip, whether prescription or over-the-counter.
Be sure that there is enough medication for the length of the trip, and don’t pack medications in checked bags, just in case luggage gets lost. If the trip is outside of the country, consider any types of vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/content/vaccinations.aspx well ahead of one’s departure, said Roush.
Have emergency contact information for English-speaking doctors in the country of destination.
Next, consider how to accommodate an older adult in different modes of transportation.
For example, if the trip involves a long car ride, be sure that there are frequent stops for the older adult to stretch and take bathroom breaks.
That’s good advice for younger travel companions, too.
If traveling on an airplane, book seats that provide additional leg room, and notify the airline in advance if walkers or wheelchairs are needed.
Older adults should take frequent walks in the aisles of the airplane every two to three hours.
And for especially long plane trips like those to Australia, the far East, Europe or even Latin America, talk to your doctor to see if you have any risks for DVT, deep vein thrombosis.
Usually, taking a full aspirin, walking down the aisle and stretching are sufficient to prevent DVT.
On a cruise ship, notify the cruise line about any special needs.
If staying at a hotel, check to see if grab bars are available in the bathrooms, and if there are no elevators, try to book a room on the first floor.
Other general tips for travel include:
• Prepare a list of all medications and medical history, including allergies
• Pack comfortable clothing, especially shoes
• Check the weather forecast ahead of time and pack accordingly
• Be aware of time zone changes as that can affect sleep patterns
• Drink plenty of water
• Pace yourself and have fun!