Seniors Should Stay Healthy While on the Road

Medical precautions older people should take when they travel

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TUESDAY, April 29, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- If you're a senior who loves to travel, the International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM) has some travel tips for you.

Anyone over age 50 who is traveling abroad or in the United States should take the following medical precautions, the ISTM says:

  • Review your health insurance policy. If it doesn't provide you with coverage abroad, you should buy a policy that does cover you when you're in other countries. Social Security doesn't cover payment of hospital or medical services you may require when you travel outside the United States, and the U.S. government can't pay to have you medically evacuated back home. Escorted medical evacuation can cost thousands of dollars.
  • If your insurance doesn't cover medical expenses state-to-state or abroad, check out medical assistance companies. They offer emergency consultation by telephone.
  • Bring an ample supply of any required medications in their original containers. Many countries have strict narcotics laws. So bring along copies of your prescriptions and, if possible, a letter from your doctor explaining the need for the drug(s). You should also carry a letter from your doctor explaining desired treatment should you become ill. If you suffer from a heart condition, bring along your most recent EKG.
  • Never carry unlabeled medicines when going through airport security. People in wheelchairs should bring their owner's manuals with them. Airport security personal sometimes remove wheelchair parts to check for bombs and weapons.
  • Get up-to-date vaccinations, especially those that protect you against diseases present in the specific areas that you plan to visit.
  • Don't overextend yourself. Physical activity associated with travel can be strenuous and sudden changes in diet and climate can have serious health consequences for older people who are unprepared for those changes.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information about traveler's health.

SOURCE: International Society of Travel Medicine, news release, April 2003

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