Seniors: Traveling Abroad? Consider These Recommendations

The last thing you want is to have vacation ruined by a medical problem.

Make sure you pack enough of the medications you typically take to last you for your entire vacation.
Make sure you pack enough of the medications you typically take to last you for your entire vacation.(GETTY IMAGES)

By Ronan Factora, M.D.

RETIREMENT BRINGS MANY opportunities to enjoy leisure time. Americans spend a tremendous amount of time visiting family and friends and taking in sights around and out of this country. For many individuals, these are times that bring fond memories and are extremely enjoyable. To keep the good times rolling, there are a few recommendations that should be considered, particularly for older individuals who have medical problems that require close monitoring and management. The last thing you want is to have vacation ruined by a medical problem, much less one that could have been avoided.

Medications:Make sure you pack enough of the medications you typically take to last you for your entire vacation – and consider packing a few days’ extra, perhaps up to an additional week, to account for any delays in travel that may occur. Individuals also shouldn’t forget to pack extra medications that are typically taken on an as-needed basis. For those who take controlled substances – like sedatives, sleep medications and pain meds – make sure you have enough to last during these periods, as your prescribing physician may only be able to prescribe enough for a month and may need to give you some extra medications if you’ll be gone when the next refill is due. Be sure to keep these medications secure in a locked box, even when traveling, to ensure their safety and security – if they are lost you may not be able to get extra medications unless you go to an urgent care center or emergency department. It’s always worth bringing an updated list of medications and an allergy list with you for reference.

Assistive devices:Be sure to bring the cane or walker that you’ll need to get from place to place. If you require a wheelchair, you could help reduce the burden of bringing one along by checking with those providing transportation and the location where you’re staying to see if wheelchairs are available for your use. When assistance is available and wheelchairs are provided, it may be worthwhile to take advantage of these services. Anticipate delays in travel and security related to use of assistive devices, and time your travel accordingly. It ‘s also worth making sure that you’re able to use your assistive device at the destination you anticipate going. Make sure that the places you want to visit are accessible to individuals with disabilities, for example. It’s better to understand what sort of geography you’ll encounter at your destination and anticipate potential problems rather than arriving and wondering how you’ll get around.

Destination planning:For those who are older or have many medical problems, it’s worth checking out what sort of medical support is available during the trip (if anticipating a long bus or train trip or a cruise) and what sort of medical support is available at the destination (physicians, clinics, pharmacies). It’s advisable to bring along some documents related to your health care if your trip is going to be long – these may include the last history and physical examination completed by your primary care doctor and a copy of your health care power of attorney. Contact information for your primary care doctor is also worthwhile to bring if a situation arises where you have to go to the hospital.

Much of travel requires planning and anticipation for situations that could ruin the vacation. No one ever wants anything bad to happen during these times where leisure and enjoyment are the goals, but it is much better to plan ahead, anticipate problems and develop a plan rather than run into a problem without considering how to deal with it ahead of time.

This article originally appeared in US News & World Report.

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