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Taking a Trip? Be Prepared

Healthy Senior Travel

'To Do' List for Traveling Seniors

Here's what the CDC says seniors should do before traveling:

Get a travelers' health policy to cover insurance gaps. This is especially important for those on Medicaid and Medicare, which may not pay for treatment abroad.

On long plane trips, walk around periodically and drink lots of water. A rare but potentially dangerous condition called deep vein thrombosis can develop in those who have spent long periods of time in the cramped spaces of airliners. Simple movement will prevent it in those susceptible, mainly smokers, people who are overweight, or those who have had recent surgery.

Ask for help at any U.S. embassy or consulate. The staff will give you a list of local medical professionals. A consul can also inform your family or friends if you become ill.

Bring enough of your medications for the entire journey. Pack each type of medication in its original container. Also take a copy of your prescription. It is also a good idea to take note of the generic names of your medications, in case you have to buy more while traveling.

Pack medicines and extra eyeglasses in your hand luggage. Especially if your medication is crucial, have a backup supply in your checked luggage.  

If you have a unique medical condition or suffer from allergies, wear a bracelet marked with the appropriate information. Some travelers advise having your doctor write down instruction for your treatment if you become incapacitated.

Air pollution in other countries can sometimes be severe. The combination of air pollution and high altitude is a particular health risk for seniors.    

Avoid drinking tap water outside North America. Drink bottled water; or if you must drink tap water, boil it for 20 minutes first. Avoid eating vegetables and fruit that don't need to be peeled before eating.  

In case you get traveler's diarrhea, bring an antimicrobial treatment. Many people plan ahead and pack some, just in case. If the diarrhea is severe or lasts for more than a couple of days, visit a doctor.

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