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Helping Frail Seniors Travel

This summer's family reunion is set for Nova Scotia and your mother, who is on oxygen, lives in Alberta.  Your daughter's wedding is in Arizona, but your father, who has severe osteoarthritis, lives in Toronto. Do scenarios like these mean your favorite senior has to miss the big event?

Not at all.  Help is available from many sources to enable a senior to travel for family events or for recreation. Planning ahead is key to successful travel experiences, no matter what age the traveler. Here are a few things you can do:

Call the doctor

Before you book a trip, discuss it with the doctor. People with heart conditions need to be certain they are stable.  Diabetics must know how to safely stagger medications while traveling through different time zones. Ensure prescriptions will cover the time away. Some overseas destinations require getting vaccinated well before you leave. Don't forget out-of-country medical insurance if you are leaving Canada.

Call home care agencies

For specialized medical needs, such as traveling with oxygen or severe mobility issues, check with home care companies who offer medical aides. Some may even have registered nurses available who could travel with seniors.  These qualified personnel have the training to monitor equipment such as supplemental oxygen, medications and vital signs and symptoms. These services are not generally listed on an agency's website. Contact them directly to find out if a medical aide is available.

Call a travel agent/airline

Many airlines offer special fares to a person traveling as a medical attendant. This person can be a family member - even a minor - who accompanies the senior to help ensure they travel safely. Many travel agents will offer additional help with booking hotels and transportation that will work for you and your family member.

Use special equipment

Seniors with emphysema or COPD can travel with bottled oxygen; however, an oxygen concentrator might be another option. The portable unit does exactly what it says: it concentrates the oxygen around the person into a mask or tube and prevents a decrease of oxygen in the blood. Rent them through medical supply companies. Many devices come with rechargeable batteries and can be used on the ground as well as in the air.

Ask for help

Take advantage of golf cart transport offered throughout airports, and wheelchairs to help infirm seniors get between gate and aircraft. Advanced boarding is designed for those needing extra time or assistance - including seniors with health or mobility problems.

Before and during travel, call on the many resources available to help you have a safe, pleasant journey.

For more travel topics, consult Vol.1 and 2 of the ElderWise Info newsletter archive, including Airline Travel and Auto Travel.

This downloadable archive is available FREE to ElderWise members: Visit to sign up.

Vol. 4, No. 9
� ElderWise Publishing 2008-9.
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