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Accessible Travel for Older Adults: Plan for a Less Stressful Trip

Zing Health
Posted by Zing Health on Dec 23, 2022 8:46:53 AM

Travel schedules can be hectic and stressful, whether during the holidays or for a vacation. However, medical issues can be roadblocks for families with older adults. So, plan ahead for safe travels to an airport or unfamiliar destination.

Before Check-In, a Health Checkup

Changes in altitude, temperature and humidity sometimes bring on dramatic health effects. See your doctor if you’ve had recent surgery or a chronic condition that might make travel difficult. Travelers may need to bring medical devices or more medicine. Ask about when to take medication when changing routines across time zones. Keep drugs in the original bottle to show that they’re properly prescribed and to identify them if they need replacement.

If traveling overseas, find out if health checks or vaccinations are required to enter the country. Some countries may require a recent COVID-19 test, and travelers showing symptoms may have to stay there under quarantine or be sent back to the U.S.

Check whether your health plan has different rules for coverage outside the service area or county where you live. Medicare plans cover emergency care anywhere in the United States, Puerto Rico and other territories, but a doctor’s care out of town may be another matter. The insurance provider can tell you if you have medical or pharmacy coverage and whether it’s more expensive out-of-network coverage. (Book a call if you need information on a Zing Health plan.) The travel coverage available through insurance agents can fill gaps such as direct emergency medical transport back home, lost or stolen property coverage and even legal help.

Navigating Airports and Accessible Travel

 Consider booking a direct flight. Pack light if you’re carrying luggage by yourself and prepare to minimize the inevitable security delays. Medically required liquids are screened separately, so pack them in a food storage bag with other carry-on items. Check baggage early and check in online to avoid the ticket counter. A notification card will alert airport security screeners if you have a pacemaker or implant that could set off metal detectors. People older than 75 do not have to take their shoes off at airport security, and some credit cards will pay the application fee to get in the faster precheck lines.

Accessibility devices will require extra planning. Most airlines allow walkers, wheelchairs and other mobility devices onboard, but there might be a fee for expedited boarding to get on the plane first. Ask the airline in advance for wheelchair assistance or aisle seating. See if a doctor’s letter is needed to bring portable oxygen concentrators or other medical equipment.

On the Flight and at Your Destination

Long trips can be hard on the body, especially for people with coronary heart disease or weight issues. If there’s a risk of developing blood clots in the legs, your doctor might suggest wearing compression socks for the flight. Give yourself opportunities to stretch. Drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol or smoking to minimize the effects of fatigue and jet lag. Travel may heighten known anxieties or draw out new ones, so have a plan to deal with predictable stress or to continue a mental health routine. In foreign countries, the U.S. Embassy can help with emergency medical issues.

A trip away from family or familiar surroundings can be bewildering, so take your time. Check on mobility access and bathroom accommodations for hotels, restaurants, and tourist destinations. Masking up is still a good idea in crowded or poorly ventilated areas, and sunscreen will protect the skin outdoors even on cloudy days. Keep up healthy eating and other habits but resist the temptation to pack your schedule. Plan time for shopping or sightseeing on foot. Travel can reset your sleep clock, sharpen your focus and lift your mood for your return. Enjoy your time away and your return home.


Topics: travel, accessibility

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