Trip Tips for Older Travelers with Health Considerations
By Amanda Lewis, BA, CMC, Certified Care Manager, Aging Wisdom, LLC
Summer is a wonderful time for traveling. Neither age nor health should keep you from going on a vacation. With some thoughtful planning, a trip to visit with family and friends or to visit specific destinations can be a joy.
As Aging Life Care Professionals®, we can assist individuals and families in planning for travel success and use our experience to help clients anticipate and address potential obstacles.
Here are some ideas for planning ahead that will help ensure you or an older loved one is ready for an adventure:
- Consider your strengths and interests and let those be your guide.
- Have a written, shareable itinerary and make sure that others have it too.
- Take breaks and enlist help.
- If you take medication, have a pill organizer (some refer to it as a medi-set) filled and in your carry-on baggage. Include instructions.
- Have an ID card with emergency contact and health information.
- If traveling internationally, make sure you have an international call plan for your phone. Also, you may want to look into overseas coverage on your insurance.
Focus on strengths and interests in planning a trip. What do we mean by strengths? Too often, people will dismiss the idea of travel based on mobility limitations or concerns about cognitive changes. We take a strengths-based approach in advising clients. We acknowledge the health concerns, but also believe that engagement can take many different forms and offer advice accordingly.
Have an itinerary. Plan ahead. Whether traveling by car or air, an itinerary is essential and helps guide the trip. Don’t pack too much into a day. Recognize that time differences, new surroundings, and too much activity can play havoc on sleep patterns, appetite, and your sense of well-being. Best to specifically tailor your travel with intentional down time. Be flexible. Not everything will go according to plan, so roll with the punches. A good sense of humor helps too.
Take breaks. Enlist help. When traveling by car, plan regular stops along the way. Frequent breaks are important to stretch your legs, use the facilities, hydrate, and nourish the mind, body, and soul. If flying, make sure that you have an escort at both ends if the older adult is traveling alone. If someone has health concerns, you can arrange for a traveling nurse as an escort.
Medication management. A few simple steps can ensure that medications aren’t an impediment to travel. Pill organizers are inexpensive and can help enormously. Or, you can also arrange to have your pills prepackaged through your pharmacy. Make sure to have the organizer or packs in your carry-on luggage in case your other luggage goes missing. In addition, a written prescription list and instructions, packed along with the organizer, can help others in assisting. Make sure you know of pharmacies at your destination too, just in case.
ID card with emergency contact and health information. We routinely create this document as a way to provide added support for our clients. If, for some reason, the individual has a medical emergency or is unable to communicate, the emergency contact information card is a quick reference to help connect with family, support and medical professionals.
International travel considerations include having an international calling plan for your phone, so you’re not surprised by extra charges when you return home. And when traveling overseas, look into global medical insurance coverage as well for extra peace of mind while traveling.
Still not confident about traveling with health considerations? Call an Aging Life Care Manager for a consultation. We can work with you to make sure that everything is organized, reviewed and ready for you to have a successful trip.
To find your own professional advisor, go to www.aginglifecare.org and click on “Find an Expert.”
Amanda Lewis, BA, CMC, is a Certified Care Manager at Aging Wisdom with over 5 years of experience in care management. She assists clients living with severe chronic medical conditions optimize their health and quality of life.
This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.