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Special Section

Senior Living: Make safe and healthy travel plans during your retirement years

Senior Living: Make safe and healthy travel plans during your retirement years

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May 22, 2013
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The retirement years can be an exciting time to travel
and see the world. But before setting out, take some time
to get prepared. Here are some simple steps that can help
ensure a safe and healthy trip.

Plan Ahead

If you have a medical condition, it’s important to check with your doctor now about precautions to take before traveling. And if you’re traveling outside the U.S., check out the health conditions of the country you’re visiting and find out if any vaccinations and/or preventative medications are recommended or required. See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov/travel or call 800-232-4636) for a listing of worldwide diseases, vaccinations, preventative medications and the precautions you should take.

Are You Insured?

If you’re traveling outside the U.S., be aware that Medicare does not cover health expenses beyond the border, however some Medigap policies do. And many insurance policies do not pay for medical expenses overseas, so check your coverage carefully. If you need coverage, some good shopping destinations are quotewright.com and insuremytrip.com, two websites that offers policies from major travel-insurance companies. Prices vary considerably, ranging from under $100 to several hundred dollars, depending on what they cover, how long you’ll be away, and whether you have any pre-existing medical conditions.

Pack Your Meds

Pack your medicine in your carry-on bag, so if your checked luggage gets lost or misdirected you won’t be without. Bring the medicines in their original containers, with your name on the labels. It helps the airport screening process. Also, take copies of your prescriptions just in case. And be aware that if you carry more than three ounces of liquid medicines, you’ll need to have them inspected by airport security. For airport security requirements visit www.tsa.gov -- click on “For Travelers.”

Wash Your Hands

Airplanes, which can be quite germy, are prime areas for catching a cold or virus, but don’t blame the airline air. The filters airlines use are terrific at weeding out viruses and other germs in the air. The problem is what you touch -- the tray-top at your seat, the handle in the airplane bathroom, etc. So be sure to wash your hands often, carry antibacterial wipes, and keep your hands away from your mouth and nose. Follow the same strategies on cruise ships or other modes of public transportation.

If You Get Sick

Before your trip, find out what health care facilities are near the areas you’re visiting. (See hospitalconnect.com to find U.S. hospitals. Your hotel or travel agency may also be able to help with this.) If your trip is outside the U.S., join the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (iamat.org), which provides its members access to a worldwide network of physicians who speak English and have agreed to affordable prearranged fees. Membership is free. Also check out the “travel clinic directory” on the International Society of Travel Medicine website (istm.org).

Know Your Limits

Consider how strenuous and physically demanding your trip will be, and don’t over do it. Jet lag can also wear you down, so take it easy for the first few days at your destination. If mobility is an issue, some extra tips that can help include asking for a wheelchair to use while in an airport. And reserve a hotel room that’s near the entry and one that doesn’t require walking up any stairs. Also pack light and get help with your bags. Hauling heavy luggage around can put you at risk for injury. And finally, bring along a list of your medical conditions and medications in case you need medical attention while you’re away.

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