Travel Tips for Seniors

Medicines and a good checklist ensure safe flights on holiday, expert says

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SUNDAY, April 6, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- During spring and summer, many older Americans pack their bags and fly off to holiday destinations. But, there are a number of things seniors should do to ensure they have a safe flight, says the American Geriatrics Society.

"It's important for seniors to make their physicians aware of upcoming plane travel," Dr. Sharon A. Brangman, an AGS member, said in a prepared statement. "Meeting with a physician a week or so before any air travel will allow the doctor to address any immediate concerns and provide the traveler with any necessary medications or other advice to help ensure a safe trip."

She suggested a number of things seniors should do before boarding a plane:

  • Pack all necessary medications in their original containers in your carry-on bag in order to avoid loss or damage.
  • Ask your physician to write down the following: any past and current medical problems you have and how they're treated; the names (including generic names) of any drugs you're taking, the doses, and when and how your take them (for example, whether you use a needle); and the amount of each drug you need to take with you on your trip. Having this information with you at all times helps ensure proper medical care if there's an emergency.
  • If you're crossing time zones, ask your doctor about the proper time to take your medication and how it should be done. Ask if any foods you might eat on your holiday could interact with your meds.
  • Update your vaccinations. If you're traveling overseas, you may need certain vaccinations before you leave -- in some cases, up to six weeks before you depart.
  • The air inside planes is dry, so drink plenty of water during your flight.
  • Protect yourself against deep-vein thrombosis, which occurs when blood clots form in the veins (usually in the legs) and block blood flow. Sitting for a long time on an airplane or train can contribute to DVT, but wearing special compression stockings can help prevent this dangerous condition.
  • Guard against infection. Wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after traveling on a crowded plane, train or bus, and before eating.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about travelers' health.

SOURCE: American Geriatrics Society, news release, March 2008

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