August 7, 2012

Summer Travel Health Tips for Seniors

By Alex Parsons (posted in Yahoo! Voices)

Group on a benchEvery summer, senior citizens travel in great numbers, whether that be by land, air, or sea. Seniors take much deserved vacations, visit their families, and go on group outings.

With all of the traveling that they do, it is important to keep health concerns at the forefront. By no means should they restrict their freedom to travel, but anticipating potential problems can be very important and can prevent potential disaster.

In that spirit, here are ten summer travel health tips for seniors:

  • Pay Attention to Heat and Stay Hydrated – Heat is a major health risk for seniors. One of the most important summer travel health tips for seniors is to pay attention to the heat and stay hydrated. However you are traveling, it is important that you drink ample amounts of water-six to eight glasses per day-before you are thirsty. While traveling, you do not want to put yourself at risk for heat-related illnesses. Another way to increase your fluid intake is eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Occasional breaks in air-conditioned environments can also help alleviate the potential for heat-related problems.
  • Take It Slow and Take Breaks – When traveling, it is always a good idea to take it slow and not over do it, but this is especially true for seniors traveling in the summer. It is important to take frequent breaks and to undertake physical activity at an appropriate pace. Over extending yourself will likely result in problems including potential injury and/or illness. If you are driving, it is helpful to stop frequently to stretch and to give yourself a mental break. If you are tired while traveling, don’t feel afraid to take a nap.
  • Wear Proper Attire – It’s important to wear proper clothing when you are traveling. If you are thinking about walking, wear walking shoes. If you are going to be out in the sun or driving, wear wraparound sunglasses to minimize the potential for eye damage. Similarly, you should wear comfortable and light clothing that will keep you both cool and covered to reduce the possibility of sunburn and heatstroke.
  • Exercise – Summer time means that it is often easier to get outside and enjoy some physical activity. It’s helpful for both your mental and physical well-being. When traveling, you can consider walking to destinations to squeeze in exercise (safety and health permitting of course). Other seniors enjoy swimming, fishing, and other summer sports as a way of staying fit while traveling.
  • See Your Doctor – It is a good idea to see your doctor before you go on a trip, as they can alert you to potential travel-related health problems and give you a general update on your health. For example, your doctor can tell you if any of your medications have side effects that are exacerbated by the summer heat. This is one of the most over-looked summer travel tips for seniors.
  • Bring Extra Medication – If you are going to be gone for an extended period of time, it is important to bring extra medication. In the case of unforeseen circumstances, it is always better to have more medication than needed rather than finding yourself without.
  • Carry A Current List Of Prescriptions – Along with bringing extra medication, it is a good idea to carry a list of your current prescriptions. If something unexpected happens, you will have this with you and you will not need to be worried about remembering the name of your medications. Moreover, in the event that you need to see a doctor while traveling, this can be important.
  • Carry Your Vital Information On You – When traveling; it is a good idea to carry your vital information on you. Put it in an index card in your pocket or wear a fanny pack. In the event of an accident, it is helpful to have emergency contact numbers, a list of your prescriptions, allergies, and known pre-existing conditions-it can make medical treatment easier.
  • Inform People that You Are Leaving – If you are leaving your home, it is important to let someone know, be they friends, family, or neighbors. You can check in with them daily or however frequently you want to update them on your progress and let them know where you are. If they don’t hear from you in the specified time interval, they will know that there is a potential problem-which may be health related. Additionally, they can often take care of things at home such as taking in the mail and watering plants, which can be a source of stress and anxiety while traveling.
  • Select Accommodations That Are Friendly To Seniors – When selecting hotels, it is always a good idea to select one that is accommodating to seniors. Beyond accessibility issues, it can be helpful to stay at a hotel that has a pool (for relaxation and beating the heat) and a continental breakfast (to ensure that you are eating well).


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