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Helping Older Adults Manage the Outside World

(continued)

Travel and Older Adults continued...

Travel insurance ensures that you get a refund or rebooking if a medical or family crisis prevents traveling. Most -- but not all -- airlines will honor these situations whether or not you have travel insurance. Ask about their policies when you purchase your tickets.

Someone at home should have your travel itinerary so you can be contacted if necessary.

Order special meals on flights 48 hours in advance to make sure you're accommodated. Confirm your orders at the time you check in. Or consider bringing your own "picnic."

Most airlines will provide companions for older travelers.

When booking flights, ask for a bulkhead seat -- it's roomier.

If oxygen will be needed for a traveler with a cardiac condition, it should be ordered 48 hours before the flight.

When flying, make sure all important items, like medications, extra glasses, and so forth, are carried on along with a change of clothes.

Do not keep medications in checked luggage. Put them in your carry-on bag and keep them with you at all times. Also carry along copies of prescriptions with you.

Make sure you and your loved one both drink plenty of fluids (eight ounces per hour), and get up and stretch and (if at all possible) take a walk down the aisle of the cabin periodically.

Many medications are affected by climate and environmental changes, sun exposure, heat, and cold. Ask the doctor about these, and also inquire about the possible side effects of drugs taken right before plane flights. Amnesia-like states and motion sickness are common side effects for some medications. It may be wise to withhold certain drugs until after you've arrived at your destination. (Surprisingly, older adults are less susceptible to jet lag than the rest of us.)

Hotels offer sitter services. Make use of them in the day and the evening. Some older adults are slow to rise in the morning. A companion for a few hours in the morning will ensure that Dad will have energy left for the special dinner you've planned.

If it's difficult for Grandma to climb into your SUV, keep a small collapsible stool in your car that she can use to get in and out of the car.

Encourage your loved one to take bottled water on all outings, especially if he'll need to take medication.

Your parents needn't interrupt exercise routines just because they are traveling. Especially because traveling can be exhausting, it's important to stay in shape by maintaining a regular routine, or at least a modified version of it. Exercise will also reduce the chance of injury. Make use of hotel and local gyms. Bring lightweight exercise gadgets with you and encourage stretching. Of course, there's always walking.

Buy a prepaid phone card for Mom, and make sure she knows how to use it, in case she needs to use a pay phone in an emergency.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on September 21, 2014
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