Is there anything I can do to help prepare my senior citizen parents for joining the family on vacation this summer?
Seniors are at their best when they are active and engaged in the world. Staying physically fit and mentally stimulated is the best way to promote a long and healthy life. As we get older, our aging parents often need some help from adult children in preparing for events that take them out of their comfort zone. If you and your parents are planning a vacation away from their home, here are some tips for seniors to help prepare for healthy and safe summer travels:
Bring all medications in their original bottles and a keep a list of the medications and dosages with you at all times. Consider bringing extra medication and keep it in a carry-on bag in case you lose your luggage.
Keep a list of medical conditions and doctors' telephone numbers.
Know if medications affect the body's ability to deal with heat. Antibiotics may make your skin more sensitive to the sun, and diuretics may dehydrate you faster.
Make sure your accommodations are senior-friendly.
Remember "SHS": sunglasses, hats and sunscreen.
Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes for walking around. Don't be afraid or embarrassed to ask for a wheelchair in airports or museums.
Avoid being outdoors on very hot and/or humid days. Stay indoors in air-conditioned surroundings. If you must go out, go early or late when the sun isn't as intense and temperatures are lower, and wear cool clothing.
Plan indoor recreational activities for the middle, hot part of the day (museums, movies, restaurants, etc.).
Carry a water bottle and stay hydrated. Know where convenient public restrooms are located if you venture out.
On the train, bus and/or plane, avoid deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the legs) by not sitting in one place for too long. If you're traveling on a long flight, get up and take a lap of the plane once every hour.
Remember that a change in time zones may cause jet lag, so get enough sleep.
Don't overdo it by planning too full of an agenda for one day.
-- Mark Melrose, DO, is a board-certified emergency physician at Urgent Care Manhattan. E-mail him your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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