Aging Well: Good planning gives older travelers peace of mind | CraigDailyPress.com

Aging Well: Good planning gives older travelers peace of mind

Tamera Manzanares

Resources

■ Information about vaccines, food- and water-borne illnesses and other travel health information: http://www.cdc.gov/travel or 877-FYI-TRIP.

■ The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association travel clinic provides vaccine information/consultations and administers vaccines. Visit http://www.nwcovna.org or call 970-879-1632.

■ Travel warnings, emergency contact information for U.S. Embassies and Consulates and other travel information: http://www.travel.state.gov.

Traveling with medications

■ Let your doctor know about your medical conditions, medications and itinerary before traveling.

■ Keep medications and extra eye glasses in carry-on luggage.

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■ Leave prescriptions and over-the-counter medications in original containers.

■ Carry a doctor's note specifying your medical conditions, medications and dosages. Include copies translated into another language, if necessary.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Passports, flights, lodging and itineraries: There are many details to planning an international excursion.

One of the most important details — travel health — should not be overlooked.

Addressing the possibility of illness or injury in a foreign place does not have to be discouraging. With common-sense planning, older travelers and people with health conditions will be safer, more confident and better able to enjoy new places and experiences.

Assess your health

Once a destination and itinerary are set, travelers should educate themselves on the regions they will be visiting and how factors such as altitude, climate and available services might affect their health.

The U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites provide essential health and safety information, including travel warnings, vaccination recommendations and risks related to food- and water-borne illnesses.

Ideally, travelers should visit their doctor and/or a travel health clinic six weeks before departure to discuss their health concerns.

The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association's travel clinic helps patients determine which vaccines are necessary and administers the vaccines.

Older adults might need booster vaccines for tetanus and other routine vaccines such as measles, mumps, rubella and the flu. These illnesses can be common in other countries, and protection from childhood vaccines decreases with time. Other vaccines might be recommended or required based on a destination.

If necessary, travel health nurses will refer a patient to a doctor to further discuss travel concerns related their health.

A doctor will assess a person's fitness for travel and might prescribe medications to guard against risks such as malaria, altitude sickness and deep-vein thrombosis — dangerous blood clots that can form in the legs when sitting for a long time.

Injury is the most common cause of preventable death among travelers, according to the CDC.

Older travelers should consider their health limitations, be practical when planning activities and consider exercising more and making health changes that might enable them to do and see more while traveling.

Travel insurance

Travel health insurance can offer people who have underlying medical conditions, or will be outside the U.S. for extended periods of time, a peace of mind to enjoy overseas travel.

First, travelers should examine their present health insurance policies to determine what, if any, medical services will be covered abroad. Medicare and Medicaid do not cover services outside the U.S., except in very limited circumstances.

Travelers should determine whether their present coverage excludes treatment of pre-existing conditions, psychiatric emergencies, injuries from high-risk activities such as mountain climbing or injuries from terrorist attacks/acts of war.

They also should know their insurance company's policy for "out-of-network" services and whether it requires pre-authorization for treatment or hospital admission or a second opinion before emergency treatment, according to the CDC.

Short-term or annual supplemental policies can be purchased to cover holes in a traveler's regular insurance policy. Medigap plans — supplemental policies available for people enrolled in original Medicare — might provide limited coverage for emergency care abroad.

The CDC recommends travelers buy a policy that covers emergency medical transport or evacuation (including repatriation back to the U.S.).

A policy also should include a 24-hour physician-backed support center to coordinate medical help, transportation and payment, as well as help with translation and other emergency needs.

Travel health insurance might be included in comprehensive travel insurance policies or bought separately.

Consumer Reports recommends that travelers buy travel health insurance through a third-party insurance company rather than through a tour operator, cruise line or travel agency. The website http://www.insuremytrip.com is among sites providing rates from multiple companies.

Policy costs generally are based on a person's age, cost of trip and amount of coverage. Most policies range between 4 and 8 percent of the total trip price, according to the U.S. Travel Insurance Association.

Some policies exclude pre-existing conditions, and others will cover those considered stable with medication. These policies usually must be bought within a set period related to departure or initial trip deposit, according to the association.

There's a wide variety of travel health insurance available. It's important to read the fine print to make sure it meets the traveler's needs and applies to his or her destinations.

For more information about travel insurance, visit the U.S. Travel Insurance Association at http://www.ustia.org.

Those who have questions about travel and Medicare or Medigap policies can call the Colorado Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program at 970-879-0633 or 888-696-7213 or visit http://www.medicare.gov.

This article includes information from the International Association for Medical Assistance for Travelers, the U.S. Department of State and the CDC.

Tamera Manzanares writes for the Aging Well program and can be reached at tmanzanares@nwcovna.org. Aging Well, a division of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, is a community-based program of healthy aging for adults 50 and older. For more information, visit http://www.agingwelltoday.com or call 970-871-7606.

Resources

■ Information about vaccines, food- and water-borne illnesses and other travel health information: http://www.cdc.gov/travel or 877-FYI-TRIP.

■ The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association travel clinic provides vaccine information/consultations and administers vaccines. Visit http://www.nwcovna.org or call 970-879-1632.

■ Travel warnings, emergency contact information for U.S. Embassies and Consulates and other travel information: http://www.travel.state.gov.

Traveling with medications

■ Let your doctor know about your medical conditions, medications and itinerary before traveling.

■ Keep medications and extra eye glasses in carry-on luggage.

■ Leave prescriptions and over-the-counter medications in original containers.

■ Carry a doctor’s note specifying your medical conditions, medications and dosages. Include copies translated into another language, if necessary.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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