Written by: Marie Villeza, www.elderimpact.org
Few people look forward to air travel. Long lines, awkward security checkpoints, and cramped airline seating all but ensure that flying is an uncomfortable experience for everyone involved. For seniors, air travel can be especially inconvenient. Between physical limitations, health concerns, and travel crime targeting seniors, getting on a plane can sometimes seem like more hassle than it’s worth. But don’t let travel worries stop you from spending your retirement the way you’ve dreamed of. Instead, take these measures to protect yourself during air travel.
Avoid Getting Sick
Airplanes are a minefield of germs. With tight quarters and limited air circulation, it’s no wonder that up to 20 percent of people experience cold symptoms in the weeks following a flight. For the elderly, that cold could be more than a nuisance. Adults over the age of 65 are more susceptible to contracting the cold or flu, experience more severe symptoms than younger adults, and are more likely to contract pneumonia or even die as a result of their illness.
To protect yourself from unexpected illness, stay hydrated throughout your trip. Dry cabin air during flights makes it easier for germs to settle into your sinuses, but drinking plenty of water and rehydrating your nasal passages with a saline spray can help flush out viruses and bacteria. Wash your hands before eating, and bring a pocket pack of antibacterial wipes so you can clean off your tray table and entertainment console before using them. If your health is fragile for any reason, a face mask offers extra protection from airborne germs.
Protect Your Medication
If you take a daily medication, the last thing you want is to forget or lose that medicine when you’re en route to a destination hundreds of miles from your doctor’s office. Luckily, prescription medications are permitted in carry-on luggage.
Packing your medications in your carry-on luggage protects your health in the event that your luggage is lost or delayed. Pack medications in their original containers with the prescription label attached. Place prescriptions in a clear plastic bag with nothing else so they’re accessible at security checkpoints. If your medication or medical devices can’t go through the X-ray machine, ask for a visual inspection instead.
Keep Your Home Safe
Leaving your home unattended during travel leaves it vulnerable to vandalism and break-ins, but there are ways to protect yourself before you depart. Try to make your home appear lived-in during your absence. Place a hold on mail and newspaper deliveries while you’re gone, or ask a neighbor to pick up your mail each day. For potential burglars, lingering deliveries are a sure sign that a house is empty. Set lights on timers so it appears that people are inhabiting different rooms throughout the day. If you don’t have a garage, ask a neighbor to park in your driveway so it looks like someone’s home.
Don’t forget the simple measures for securing your home. Ensure that all doors and windows are locked before you leave, enable your security system, and tell trusted neighbors that you plan to be out of town. Every pair of eyes is an extra layer of protection for your home. If you’re able, ask someone to drop in occasionally to make sure everything is OK.
Countless seniors plan to travel the world during retirement. After decades of working, what could be better than jet-setting around the globe, seeing all the places you read about in your youth? But there’s more to planning a successful vacation than buying plane tickets and booking hotel rooms. With these tips, seniors can enjoy an adventure that’s both fun and safe.