Travel offers a host of benefits to people of every age, including mental, spiritual, physical and emotional health improvements.
The Power of Travel
Numerous studies have demonstrated the real impact of travel on adults. Men who take vacations once a year are over 30% less likely to die from heart disease. Women who take vacations twice a year are less likely to experience depression and more likely to have lower stress levels. Travel also provides people with the opportunity to expand their horizons and become more open-minded and emotionally stable. For elders, travel also offers numerous low-impact and high-impact ways to get moving and explore a new place.
Avoiding the Challenges that Can Occur
Unfortunately, some of the potential challenges to senior travel often prevent retirees and elders from exploring the world around them. There are plenty of things that could go wrong, but planning ahead can offset many of them. To prepare for a trip this summer with your loved one:
- Don’t choose a complicated, lengthy or stressful trip. Select a destination that is easy to navigate, or explore your options for booking a group trip or cruise that simplifies travel.
- Instead of going for the cheapest route, always choose the shortest, most direct route for travel, even if it means that you need to pay a little bit more. If you do incorporate layovers into your itinerary, make sure that you allow for adequate time to stretch out and grab a meal in between flights.
- Showing up at the airport and expecting a wheelchair can get you mixed results. Take the time to request any special accommodations or services in advance. Any airport can help by providing a free wheelchair if staffed by an airport employee, and other accommodations are often available. If you don’t see anything listed, don’t be afraid to ask.
- Prepare medical contact information in advance and make a list of phone numbers for any medical providers. Count prescriptions in advance and arrange for a refill ahead of time if the medication will run out while your loved one is on vacation.
- It’s also smart to carry medication with you on the plane and set alarms on your watch or phone to remind your loved one to take them. This is especially important on vacation, when abrupt changes to the schedule could make prescriptions sit forgotten.
- Consider purchasing travel insurance. These policies allow for seniors to receive money back for their trip reservations if a medical emergency occurs or something goes wrong, and they require medical treatment abroad.
- Never encourage your loved one to push themselves too hard. Travel is hard on the body, and too much physical activity and stress can lead to health problems or exacerbate existing ones.
- Travel with family, especially if your loved one is going abroad. Travel can be disorienting and stressful, and having another family member there to assist with navigation, filling out forms, communicating and getting to the destination is helpful.
Source: Ellen Platt, Options in Geriatric Care