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Vacationing Seniors on Meds Must Take Care to Prepare

Assistance from a Home Instead CAREGiver is a great option for seniors who need help with their medication when traveling.

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Traveling may be complicated for older adults who often are on many medications. That’s why family caregivers who are traveling with seniors or assisting them with vacation plans should be ready to help. Or, if they aren’t available, assistance from a Home Instead CAREGiverSM is a great option.

Q.My 82-year-old parents are planning a vacation this summer, and I’m worried about their health and safety. They’re generally in good shape, but on a lot of medications. Do you have any suggestions on what they should consider taking in addition to their prescription drugs and how they can best travel with their medications?

Many seniors do travel and enjoy themselves well into their 80s and even older. So if your parents are healthy and willing to take precautions, they should be fine. It might be a good idea, though, to ask them to check with their doctors before they hit the road.

Here’s some information that you could pass along that might assist them and put your mind at ease. It’s from the report, Healthy Travel: A 10-Minute Consult from Harvard Medical School. If they’re flying, be sure to remind them to check airline rules about transporting medications in carry-on luggage. Following are suggestions on what they should consider:

  1. Prescription medications. Take at least a week's supply in carry-on (in case luggage is lost). Anything beyond a week's supply can be packed in checked luggage.
  2. Other prescription medications. Depending on the destination and personal medical history, consider asking the doctor about taking along anti-malarial medications and an antibiotic for self-treatment of moderate to severe diarrhea.
  3. Gastrointestinal medications, such as anti-diarrheal medication (for example, bismuth subsalicylate or loperamide), a mild laxative and an antacid.
  4. Allergy medications, such as antihistamine and 1% hydrocortisone cream for mild allergic reactions. If your parents have a history of severe allergic reaction, bring an epinephrine auto-injector (such as EpiPen). (This is a prescription item, so if you don't already have one, talk with your doctor.)
  5. Cold-symptom medications, including a decongestant and throat lozenges as recommended by a physician.
  6. Motion sickness medication.
  7. Pain relievers like acetaminophen, aspirin or ibuprofen.
  8. Anti-fungal and anti-bacterial ointments.
  9. Lubricating eye drops.
  10. First-aid items like adhesive bandages, gauze, an elastic bandage, antiseptic, tweezers, scissors, cotton-tipped applicators and a first-aid book.

Of course, your parents should check with their doctors to make sure any of the items above would be appropriate and safe for them. It also might be a good idea to suggest an extra hand while they’re preparing for the trip. The local Home Instead® office provides CAREGiversSM to run errands and shop, along with many other at-home duties. Such assistance could be the extra support they need as well as reassurance for you.

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Last revised: July 12, 2011

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