Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speaks!

Topic: Elderly Traveling Alone with Health Challenges

Millions of older adults try to hold on to as much freedom as possible in their wonder years. In doing so, safety may not be the first time they think about it as they make plans to venture out into the wide blue yonder, alone. Giving up autonomy, I am sure, has to be a hard pill to swallow as health challenges become a part of their existence and they still want to travel.

Seniors traveling alone may need to inform family and friends of their intentions for an array of reasons. First, the mode of transportation matters, primarily if medical equipment has to be carried along for use at the final destination. Second, luggage is heavy, bulky, and hard to navigate. If there is limited mobility, vision, or respiratory problems, baggage can be problematic when traveling alone on ground, air, or sea.

Medical emergencies happen. Who is the emergency contact? Is vital health information available if someone passes out or cannot communicate? Family or friends should take a healthy look at the reality of the elderly traveling alone. Medical dilemmas can complicate the travel journey. Considerations to how long the travel journey will be must be at the forefront. The mode of travel, air, train, bus, or car, must align with health challenge requirements. Each method has its own set of circumstances. For example, eating and bathroom stops have to be considered for ground travel. If using a walker and oxygen, the navigation of these two areas can be overwhelming in an unfamiliar location. Travel delays must be well-thought-out, especially if utilizing the air or train.

Safety with any travel is necessary, but heightened awareness is paramount for the elderly traveling alone. We cannot ignore the world we live in, and the reality that many individuals prey on our elderly population. With any travel experience, planning is required, might I add, proactive planning for the best outcome. Proactive planning can prepare the elderly person traveling alone to have a successful and safe travel experience and protect against very costly problems.

There is no question that every senior who has paid their dues deserves a vacation. My legitimate concern as Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate is to have a clear plan from beginning to end.

Be well! Be safe!

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