Any time is vacation time for seniors. One of the joys of retirement is finally having the time and the means to travel. Half of the fun is in the planning and in getting ready to go. When we were younger we didn’t give much thought to what would happen if we got sick, we could always just call mom and dad. We traveled the world with only the appropriate inoculations to protect us from prevailing germs and maladies. It is a different story now. The older traveler needs to give considerable thought to what would happen if illness or a medical emergency should occur. Does that mean you should stay home? Of course not! Laura Landro who writes the Informed Patient column for the (The Wall Street Journal: Monday, May 9, 2011) stresses that travelers of every age should try to anticipate medical emergencies and plan accordingly.
Unfortunately older travelers are more vulnerable to heat exhaustion, dehydration, pollution, fatigue and stomach upsets. These maladies are common when traveling and not to be taken lightly. The idea is to protect yourself by taking suitable precautions. In addition to vaccinations, don’t forget to take extra doses of prescription medications with you. Many of us wait until the last minute to pack our medicines because we want to take a morning dose before heading to the airport. If you have ever had to return home to retrieve the bottles from the medicine chest it will never happen again. Pack them first or at the very least write medicines in big black letters on your check list. The author went so far as to suggest packing oral rehydration products and compression stockings to wear during prolonged plane travel. Travel aids are generally inexpensive and don’t take up much space. Hand sanitizers are highly encouraged these days and I was every interested in her mention of a pure-drinking water straw. I was not familiar with this item and learned that it acts as a filter if you can’t get bottled water. Add a small first aid kit and a good sunscreen to your travel pouch.
See your doctor for inoculations, and for any words of advice. It is also a good idea to see your dentist because you don’t have to deal with a lose filling or a cracked tooth when you are away. What a bummer that can be. Pack an extra pair of eye glasses and sunglasses too. I will remember this one because I forgot to pack sunglasses for my last trip to Mexico. All of that is pretty much common sense, but one thing I hadn’t thought of was medical-evacuation insurance. The cost isn’t all that high considering what it can do for you. If you do have a serious chronic illness or the likelihood that a stroke or heart attack could happen, it will buy you top rate assistance and priceless peace of mind.
A second article by an anonymous author for (Work & Family Life: June 2005) concentrated on the more basis issues of remaining healthy.
- Using bottled water, boiled, or disinfected water only (even for tooth brushing). Remembering that even ice cubes, unless you know that they made from bottled or disinfected water, should be avoided.
- Watch what you eat. Avoid unpasteurized dairy, raw vegetables (yes that means salads) and meat that hasn’t been cooked properly.
- Wash your hands and any fruit that you consider eating before removing the peel, and avoid eating produce and meats from street vendors. Common sense, but we all are tempted at one time or other.
- A bug from contaminated water or food can become a serious issue for the older traveler. Have a stash of Immodium with you and replace fluids and electrolytes lost by diarrhea or vomiting by drinking diluted juices and bottled water.
Plan your trip carefully, check with your physician for advice regarding any limitations or special needs. Work with a travel agency to assure dietary specifications can be met, as well as barrier-free accommodations if needed. With the proper care you should be able to have the healthy and happy vacation of your dreams.