If Mom or Dad has summer vacation plans, be aware that older bodies are more vulnerable to the stresses of travel.
Begin with a pretrip appointment with the doctor. Suggest a meeting with the physician 4–8 weeks ahead of the vacation. Ask the doctor to assess overall health for travel. Heart and lung issues are the primary culprits in terms of cutting a vacation short. Ask about precautions while traveling or things that can be done now to prepare.
Other medical issues
- Plan to bring extra pills in case travel home is delayed. Check to see if a prescription renewal is needed.
- Ask about the scheduling of doses when crossing time zones.
- Pack prescriptions in the carry-on in case luggage gets lost.
- Order oxygen for the flight. If your loved one has a lung condition, the airlines will require you to order oxygen from them. They need 1–2 weeks’ notice.
- Ask the airlines for help with a wheelchair if your loved one has trouble getting around the airport.
- Pack lightly and carry a wheeled suitcase to avoid back injuries.
Exercise during long seated trips. If drive time or flight time is more than four hours, your relative may be at risk of deep vein thrombosis. Although not common, this involves a clot that develops quite suddenly. It can result in a deadly embolism if it travels to the lungs. Cancer patients, overweight individuals, and people who have been recently injured or hospitalized are most at risk. Watch for painful pink or bluish hot areas in the thigh or abdomen.
Prevention involves seated exercises such as marching in place and “drawing circles” with the toes (while pointing and flexing to stretch the calf in all directions). Properly fitted medical compression socks may also help—just make sure they don’t bind at the knees. If possible, it is helpful to stand up and move about every hour or so.