|Age no barrier to overseas travel|
|Tuesday, 06 December 2011 00:00|
But really, you need only plan well and take a few extra precautions to enjoy hassle-free holidays abroad.
If you are over 65, or the person for whom you care is over 65, overseas travel may seem daunting, especially if you or they have an existing medical condition.
But even if you’re not a seasoned traveler, there’s no huge reason to opt for the ‘safer’ domestic travel option rather than spreading your wings to visit the exotic destinations you’ve always dreamed of.
Overseas travel has never been easier – or cheaper – for seniors and all it takes are some simple preparations to get the most from your journey and safeguard your health, according to Travelvax Australia, the travel health specialists.
“At our clinics we see many older travelers – from first-timers to veterans,” said Dr Eddy Bajrovic, the company’s medical director.
“Age is no barrier to overseas travel. It’s just a matter of planning ahead and taking precautions to ensure you stay healthy to enjoy every moment of the trip.
“Vaccinations may be recommended for travelers of any age heading to a developing country and these basic shots will cover you for many years – and overseas holidays.
“However, for travelers of any age heading to a developing country, the main concerns are likely to be food, water and insect-borne illnesses, as well as accidental injury.”
Here is Dr Bajrovic’s travel health list for seniors:
Seek medical advice: Even if you are in good health, talk to your doctor about your trip, any activities you have planned and any immunizations, and prescription or over-the-counter medications you should take. Take essential medications in your carry-on bag, the rest in your luggage stored in their original pack or bottle – not a pill pack. Take along extras – in case you are separated from your bags. To avoid delays at customs, take a letter from your doctor describing any existing medical conditions and what you take for them (including generic names).
In the air: To prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT) wear loose-fitting clothing and drink water (not alcohol!) regularly. Remember to stretch arms and legs, do simple exercises while seated or take a walk every hour or so. Special elastic stockings that reduce leg swelling and encourage blood flow may be advised for some travelers (correct sizing is important). Because the air pressure in flight is lower than that at sea level the amount of oxygen carried in the blood is lower and passengers with certain medical conditions, particularly heart and lung diseases, and anaemia, may not be able to tolerate this reduced oxygen level. A good simple assessment is your ability to walk 50 metres without becoming breathless. Your doctor may advise that you arrange for the airline to have additional oxygen available during flight, if needed.
Insects: Insects, especially mozzies, can bite during the day or at night. Even if they don’t carry diseases like malaria, dengue fever or Japanese encephalitis, bites can be uncomfortable and lead to infections. Carry an effective repellent and use it – preferably before insects start biting.
Safe food: Even at the best hotels, buffet food can be ‘recycled’. In up-market hotels and resorts, food is often prepared by local people and standards of sanitation and hygiene can vary widely. It is best to avoid salads, shellfish and anything presented in ice. Always choose food prepared from fresh ingredients and served piping hot. Always wash your hands before eating – older people are often less resilient to food and water-borne illnesses. Take along medication, such as loperamide and an appropriate antibiotic (see your doctor for this), to treat travelers’ diarrhea; additionally a laxative (such as coloxyl) may be useful to take along as constipation is not uncommon. Either problem can disrupt a holiday and every traveler should get advice on which medication options are best for them.
Safe water: Water is a common source of gastro bugs. Don’t drink water from the tap – even if there’s a sign saying it is safe to do so. Before you pay for a bottle of water give it the shake-and-view test, and check the seal and general condition of bottle. Find a reliable supplier and stick with them. Soft drinks and beer are usually reliable (carbonation and brewing kills bacteria), but always avoid ice. Freezing local water doesn’t kill bugs, it just keeps them nicely chilled!
Accidental injury: Wear sturdy walking shoes and watch out for broken footpaths, particularly at night when street lighting may be poor. If walking after dark, don’t venture into unfamiliar areas and get advice from the hotel/resort on no-go areas.
First-aid kit: Take a small traveler’s first-aid kit to cope with small cuts, abrasions and blisters is good idea. If you use any items you can top it up when you get home ready for your next trip.
Equipment check: Have a maintenance check done on any equipment you will take with you, to ensure that it’s in working order. If possible, research the availability of wheelchair and medical equipment providers in areas you plan to visit.
Carry written plans: Carry your written itinerary and directions of where you wish to go so people can help you if you are lost.
Luggage: Limit your baggage and make sure it is clearly labeled and lightweight – there may be times when you have to carry it by yourself. Buy luggage with a telescopic handle and wheels – you’ll never regret the investment.
Health and Evacuation Insurance: Make sure you have adequate health insurance coverage while abroad, including coverage for medical evacuation (not covered by most domestic policies). Medicare and private health insurers do not provide payment for medical services outside Australia.
Travelvax Australia has 32 clinics across the country and offers a toll-free travel health advice line on 1300 360 164 (excl. mobiles).