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Travel Tips for Seniors

Just because seniors receive home health care doesn’t mean they can’t travel.  Whether you’re helping your elderly loved one plan for a week-long vacation or short weekend jaunt, it’s important to help them prepare for travel.  Sometimes problems pop up while on the road.  Being prepared for the worst can make your vacation plans go more smoothly.

There are nurses that are ready and willing to travel with families and provide the care needed during those outings.  If you have been using a health care agency for some time, you may already have a close relationship with one or a few nurses or aides that come to your home.

When you are on friendly terms with a  that comes to your home, you can often make an arrangement with them to come on a .  This can be a private arrangement with their rate of pay–hourly or a flat fee. Consider that a private arrangement will not have insurance coverage or any endorsement from an agency.  This can complicate an emergency or a situation where the nurse does not uphold her end of a vacation care agreement.

If you are new to home health care, then it will be preferable to speak with your agency to determine what nurse and vacation plan would work for you. Agencies try their best to match qualified nurses that have performed well on other assignments of this nature.

Before bringing a nurse you will need to determine:

  •  Are guests allowed.
  •  Can you afford an extra room?
  •  Will the agency cover the nurse’s room and board?
  •  Will the nurse share a room with the patient?
  • Food costs.
  • Transportation.  Will the nurse drive, fly, or ride with the family?

If the vacation will be out of the country, you may need to wait longer for the agency to find a nurse with the proper identification needed to travel outside of the U.S. An agency may reimburse the nurse for these items if no nurse has a passport or vaccinations needed for travel abroad.  This could delay assigment.

Contact your agency well before your vacation date to avoid delaying your vacation.  It could take up to a month to find a nurse and re-arrange schedules.

When planning a trip you should gather pertinent information from your senior’s physician. Compile a medical information folder that contains the following information:

  • A complete list of medical issues/health problems and current treatment methods
  • A list of medications, dosages, and times they are taken with special instructions such as whether or not a medication should be taken with food
  • The names and numbers of each of your physicians, even if they haven’t all written prescriptions for you

Gathering all of this medical information in advance can make it much easier to get through customs checkpoints or get your medications replaced if they are lost or stolen on your trip.  Make a copy of the information in the folder and keep one with your luggage and the other one on you at all times.  If traveling by air, keep medicines in your carry-on luggage so that you aren’t separated from them during your flight.  Always keep your medications in their original pharmacy containers.

Seniors can get help with transportation at the airport or train depot to make sure they arrive at their gate in plenty of time.  If you are working with a travel agent, these arrangements can be made easily, giving seniors an opportunity to board first and avoid the hurried rush that comes later when the rest of the passengers board.

Tips for More Enjoyable Traveling:

  • When traveling, it’s common to be seated for extended periods.  It can be helpful to wear compression stockings on long seated trips.  They are helpful for preventing conditions like deep-vein thrombosis and resulting blood clots.  If you have questions about compressions stockings, check with your doctor.
  • Traveling can expose seniors to germs and infection.  Seniors should wash their hands frequently or use a hand sanitizer, particularly after spending time on planes, buses, or trains where people are packed together tightly.
  • Traveling to foreign countries presents another set of challenges. Seniors should carefully choose what to eat and drink.  You can use the CDC website to look up country-specific water- and food-borne illness risks.
  • Dehydration can potentially be a problem for seniors who are traveling, too.  Keep bottled water with you for your drive or flight and drink as frequently as you are thirsty.
  • For traveling abroad it is imperative that seniors get required vaccinations.  Sometimes, vaccinations must be started months in advance of travel, so it’s important to find out what vaccinations are needed for travel in countries you plan to visit.

Keeping these tips in mind, seniors can travel more safely and comfortably and be prepared for any problems that arise.

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