Travel Tips for Seniors
The free time that comes with retirement gives seniors ample opportunity to explore the globe. Seniors, in fact, make up a large proportion of the tourist market both domestically and internationally. But being a little older can make these travelers a bit more susceptible to certain travel-related health problems.
For a safe trip, heed these tips:
- Make sure your itinerary is not too demanding for you or your companions.
- Visit your doctor and dentist before an extended trip; schedule appointments enough in advance to take care of any health problems well before your departure date.
- When traveling to areas in which infectious diseases are a threat, consult your doctor several months in advance to assure time for immunizations. Many large university hospitals have travel clinics, which have the latest information on necessary immunizations, and precautions for travel to remote (and not so remote) areas. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control also maintains a web site with this information.
- If you are being treated for an ongoing medical condition, carry copies of your medical records.
- Carry a good supply of your prescription medications and keep them with you, not packed in your suitcase. Take along non-prescription pain relievers, such as aspirin or ibuprofen and over-the-counter antacids and antidiarrheal medications.
- Take along a spare pair of eyeglasses.
- When traveling to areas with poor sanitation or disease-control measures, avoid drinking unbottled water (including ice cubes and tap water for brushing your teeth). Also avoid raw and undercooked seafood as well as unpeeled fruits and vegetables. The food you eat should be fully cooked and served HOT.
- For additional protection against traveler’s diarrhea, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using Pepto Bismol or an antidiarrheal. You can take these safely, several times daily with meals, for up to three weeks –EXCEPT if you are already taking salicylate products (for example, aspirin for arthritis). If diarrhea becomes severe, or contains traces of blood, seek medical attention immediately.
- When traveling in mosquito-infested regions, use insect repellent containing the compound DEET. Mosquitoes are responsible for spreading yellow fever, dengue fever, encephalitis, and malaria.
- Check your health insurance policy. If it doesn’t cover you for treatment outside the U.S.A. — including emergency evacuation by air ambulance to a major medical center — consider purchasing travel health insurance (ask your travel agent).
- If you need medical care while abroad, go to the largest university hospital or consult the hotel concierge.
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