Traveling is something that many seniors love to do given they generally have more time and freedom to do so. They worked hard their whole lives to be able to support their families, and now, they want to see the world in retirement.
Being able to travel freely and without worry is one of the things about ageing we can all probably look forward to doing more of. At the same time, there are a lot of challenges that come with traveling when you’re older.
Specifically, seniors have a lot of medical needs they need to tend to. This is challenging enough when they’re in the comfort of their own homes. But, when they’re traveling, the challenges are accentuated even more.
Here are some tips for how to take care of your medical needs while traveling.
Get an OK from Your Doctor
First and foremost, your doctors should give you the green light before you travel. Before you take a trip of any significance, set up an appointment with at least your primary care doctor to get your vitals checked. If you have a specialist who you see often for a particular condition, it may be wise to speak with them, too.
If you’ve had a recent procedure, the doctor who performed it should tell you first that you’re safe to travel.
Particular concerns are if you’re going to be taking a long airplane or car ride. If you have high blood pressure, being at high altitudes may be an issue. If you have circulation issues, sitting for long periods of time might not be good, too.
Your doctors can give you stretches, exercises or special instructions for how to avoid issues with your medical conditions, and how you can stay more comfortable.
Depending on where you’re traveling, there may be certain vaccinations you should take before your trip, or special things you should consider.
Plan Your Medications
Seniors often have to take multiple daily medications. This can provide many challenging situations when you’re traveling.
The first thing you need to do is make sure you have enough of all your medications to last you the entire trip — plus some, just in case. Keep in mind that if this means you’ll have to re-fill your medications early, your insurance company may say they won’t pay for them. Explain your situation to them, though, and they may issue an exception.
If you’re flying, make sure that you’re storing medications properly. Most airports will require you to have the medications in their original prescription bottles, with your name clearly printed on them. Your name should also match what’s on your boarding pass and ID.
If your medication needs to be stored in a special way, ensure that you can do that while traveling. If a medication needs to be refrigerated, for example, call the airline to see if they can accommodate your needs.
Adjust if You Have Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence is one of the most inconvenient medical issues seniors have to deal with. When they travel, the issue becomes even more complicated. Your daily routine with dealing with urinary incontinence will be completely disrupted when you travel.
If you use wearable medical helpers for your urinary incontinence, decide whether pads or reusable and washable incontinence underwear will be the best thing for you to have with you. You may find that you want to have both with you, for various situations.
If this is not something you wear on a regular basis, it might be a good idea to test them out for a few weeks before your trip. This will allow you to get used to how it feels.
Notify Your Close Contacts
Whether you have serious medical needs or not, it’s always a good idea to notify your close contacts of your travel plans — with full details. Designate a person or two who will serve as your emergency medical contact. Then, go over a full contact plan with them.
Make sure this person knows your full itinerary, not only your flight arrangements, but also where you’re staying when you get to your destination. In addition to having your direct contact information, this person should have the contact information for the hotel, cruise line, travel agency or other place handling your accommodations.
If you’re moving around on your trip, make sure your emergency contact knows of where you’ll be when, including some of the main day trips you’ll be taking.
Then, set up a regular touchpoint every day. This is where you will call your emergency contact (or vice versa) just to check in and say everything is OK. If you miss this call-in, your emergency contact will know they need to reach out to someone to see if you’re OK.
Set Up Any Special Accommodations
Finally, you should set up any special accommodations that you may need well in advance of your travel. If you need a wheelchair to take you through airport, for example, you’ll want to call the airline and notify them. They’ll have someone waiting for you while you arrive.
If you need special room accommodations when you arrive at your hotel or to your cruise, you should notify the booking agent at the time you secure your room. If you need a handicap room with safety rails in the bathrooms and in the room, for example, the hotel will need to know this in advance so they put you in the proper room.
Prepare in Advance
The key to seniors making necessary accommodations for their medical needs while traveling is preparation and planning.
Unfortunately, traveling may not be as easy as it once used to be when you were younger. But, that doesn’t mean traveling has to be a hassle. It just means that you need to take some extra time before you leave for a trip, think about your needs and then plan for them.
If you do, you’ll be enjoying the time of your life on your trip.
Bio: Anna Williams is a former aged care worker who now enjoys a slower paced life writing for Zorbies, cooking up a storm in the kitchen, and hiking local trails on weekends with her 2 beloved pups.