Tips for Safe and Healthy Travels for Seniors

June 1, 2018

Many residents at The Saybrook at Haddam are life-long travelers – and many have taken trips all around the globe.  We love when residents share photos and stories of their adventures, both far and wide.  In our own small way, we help fulfill their joy of traveling by hosting “travel tour” videos featuring world-class destinations such as Paris and Bejing, and taking many short, local trips to embrace the beauty of our Connecticut River location.  But in the summer – with the warmer weather – we know many independent seniors will be embarking on trips with family and friends. To help keep everyone healthy, we wanted to take a quick look at some advice for seniors and traveling.

The Center for Disease Control has extensive information on things senior citizens should do before any travel.  The most obvious (and most important) is to visit a doctor 4–6 weeks before any travel to assess health and fitness status, receive vaccines, order necessary medicines and prescriptions, and discuss general concerns.  All travel should factor a senior’s physical limitations and only appropriate/manageable activities should be planned.  This may mean some seniors maybe shouldn’t hike down into the Grand Canyon or spend a lot of time standing in a museum. Seniors should also give themselves time to recover from jet lag, motion sickness, or changes in altitude and climate.

Before travel, seniors should be up-to-date on routine vaccines, such as measles/mumps/rubella and seasonal flu as many of these diseases are often more common in other countries. There are some vaccines recommended for specific countries to avoid diseases such as hepatitis, typhoid, polio or yellow fever. They also should consider getting a tetanus booster since more than half of tetanus cases are in people over 65.

Seniors should talk with their doctor about prescriptions for malaria, altitude illness, or travelers’ diarrhea, making a note of possible drug interactions with other medications. They should carry enough medicine for high blood pressure, diabetes, or arthritis to last for their trip and for a few extra days in case of travel delays. All prescription medicine should be in its original container, packed in carry-on luggage in case checked luggage gets lost.  Carry a copy of the prescription to refer to if needed.  Please be aware that counterfeit drugs may be prevalent in certain parts of the world, so seniors should only take what they bring with them.

It is recommended everyone (especially seniors) follow food and water precautions during all travel outside the United States to avoid additional complications.

The greatest concern for seniors traveling is physical injuries. Seniors can minimize their risk of serious injury by:

  • Always wearing a seat belt
  • Avoiding rides in cars after dark in developing countries (or in small, local planes)
  • Never traveling at night in questionable areas

Note that many health plans, including Medicare, will not pay for services received outside the United States, so supplemental travel health insurance is recommended.

Whether seniors are traveling to the beach, going overseas, or making their way to their children or grandchildren’s homes this summer, these precautions are always good to take seriously.  Our Wellness Team is ready to discuss travel plans and health advice with residents and their families.  Simply stop by the office or set up an appointment and we will make the process as smooth as possible. We look forward to hearing more stories and seeing more photos of all the wonderful places residents voyage to this summer!


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