Older adults often have a variety of health concerns but that should not keep them from enjoying travel; whether to visit family or simply for the pure sake of new experiences. Preparation is important so it’s a smart idea to consult with a physician before taking a trip.
Dr. Jose Dryjanski, MD, a travel medicine specialist at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California offers these basic health tips for travel.
1. Get vaccinated
Learn what vaccines are needed. You may need shots to protect against pneumonia, measles, meningitis, polio and other diseases. To develop immunity, vaccines need to be given four to six weeks before your trip begins, so plan accordingly.
2. Remember to take your medication
Refill your prescriptions before you leave. Bring a list of all your medications in case you lose them or need medical attention. Bring important medicines in a carry-on bag. If you have diabetes, check with your airline about travel restrictions regarding insulin, insulin syringes and blood-glucose testing supplies.
3. Drink bottled water and avoid raw food
Stay hydrated. If you’re traveling in a developing country, drink bottled water and bottled juices only. Avoid ice, ice cream, soft cheeses and raw vegetables. Bacteria found in these foods can cause diarrhea and vomiting.
4. Exercise often
Take stretch or walking breaks, especially if you’re on a plane or in a car. Sitting for long periods of time can cause vein and pulmonary clots.
5. Prevent falls and injuries
It’s easy to fall while traveling. You can stumble on a curb while sightseeing or trip in your unfamiliar hotel room. Walk carefully and make sure your room has proper lighting and a clear path to the bathroom — free of telephone cords, bags and suitcases.
6. Protect against mosquito bites and sun damage
Mosquito bites can transmit diseases such as malaria. Wear clothing that covers your skin and use insect repellant approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Prevent sun damage by using sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30.
If you’re traveling abroad, find out in advance if your health plan covers you.