Globe-trotting seniors need to prepare for travel

Apr 10,2014

Dreaming of that trip to Bhutan? Maybe it’s Machu Picchu that beckons you. The good news is that adults over the age of 55 are in a great position in life to enjoy visiting new places. However, your body has changed since your younger days, and the things you need to take into consideration while traveling might also be different.

The most important thing you can do to insure you enjoy your trip is to be prepared! Start by choosing an itinerary that realistically reflects your health and current activity level. Conditions such as heart disease may limit your strenuous activity.

“A traveler may have underlying medical conditions that might make him or her particularly susceptible to certain travel hazards,” said William Muth, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Samaritan’s International Travel Clinic.

“Certain pre-existing health conditions or medications might also pose risk of adverse reaction to vaccinations or prescriptions that we might otherwise recommend. It is important that travelers receive expert advice in these matters.”

If you take regular medications, be sure to pack enough for your entire trip in your carry-on baggage in case your checked baggage is lost. You should also consider purchasing travel health insurance (different from trip protection insurance). Its relatively low cost could help offset a more serious expense if you needed medical care. Many health insurance plans, including Medicare, will not cover care received outside the U.S. Travel agencies specializing in overseas excursions can help identify travel medical insurance services.

Muth also recommends adults make sure they are up-to-date on routine vaccines such as diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and measles.

“I meet with people who are traveling to all parts of the world. Travel-related risks can vary considerably depending upon destination, so it’s important to consult with a travel medicine specialist prior to traveling to less-developed parts of the world.”

“During an appointment, I review your itinerary, offer recommendations to prevent travel-related problems, and counsel you about ways to avoid food and insect-borne illnesses, as well as illnesses related to environmental exposures,” said Muth.

When malaria is a risk, prescription anti-malarial medication is essential to prevent this very serious illness. Prescription medication to prevent altitude illness and traveler’s diarrhea may also be recommended.

Travelers should also check the U.S. Department of State website at travel.state.gov concerning issues of personal safety, crime, and customs and immigration requirements of destination countries — these are very important details that should not be neglected.

If your dream is to visit the Great Wall of China or to trek the Pampas of Argentina, plan ahead to protect your health. Bon voyage!

For more information about the International Travel Clinic, call Samaritan Infectious Disease at 541-768-5810 or visit samhealth.org/TravelClinic.

 

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