Tips for the senior traveler

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AS a senior citizen, you have to be ready at all times for common medical problems that may happen, especially if you are outside your home.

Dr. Marc Evans Abat, Consultant Director of The Medical City Center for Healthy Aging shares these five medical items that you, as a senior traveller, should always have on your body or at least in your bag or purse.

 A medical card that has your name, address and summary of your current medical conditions, medications and emergency contact numbers (including your doctor’s numbers).  This will greatly help in determining your medical profile in an emergency, especially if you become uncommunicative and nobody knows your medical history. This will also come handy when you need to be seen in a medical facility that you do not regularly go to.

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 All your maintenance medications. 

You should have at least one-day worth of medications to cover for your scheduled intake throughout the day.  For most senior citizens, these are probably in tablet/capsule form.  However, some also have injectable (e.g. insulin) or inhaled (e.g. metered-dose inhalers or nebules).  Try to weigh the need to bring these medications, especially if there are concerns with needing to transport certain equipment to be able to use these medications.  The general dictum is one should avoid missing doses of scheduled medications, even if going out. You can probably leave your vitamins and other supplements at home.

All your emergency medications. 

If you are hypertensive and you suddenly have elevated blood pressure, causing symptoms, you should be able to take an antihypertensive medication that was prescribed by your doctor.  If you have blockage of the arteries in your heart and you suffer from chest pain, always have aspirin and isosorbide dinitrate.  If you have allergies, have second-generation antihistamines (like loratadine, a non-sedating antihistamine) and possibly corticosteroids (as prescribed by your doctor).  Senior citizens with vertigo should have appropriate medications like betahistine.  Some of your maintenance medications may also be used in an emergency also.  Talk with your doctor to identify which of your medications can also be used in an emergency.

Your smartphone. 

Many senior citizens are now tech savvy!  Your smartphone can be loaded with medical applications that can be useful, especially in an emergency.  Some applications will send an emergency SMS or call selected phone contacts just by dropping or shaking the phone.  Others will help you keep track of your current medical history, medications, or doctors’ appointments.  If this is your first time to own a smartphone, ask your relative to help you go through all the features, load the appropriate medical applications and to test all of these features in a “mock” emergency.

A whistle or any noise maker. 

This can help alert people nearby if you have an emergency in a location where you cannot be easily seen (e.g. inside a toilet cubicle or a dressing room).

The Medical City’s Wellness Center offers an exclusive Center for Healthy Aging, where elderly patient partners can opt for services and procedures best-suited for their unique needs, such as the treatment of osteoporosis, the management of geriatric diabetes, and the prevention or early detection of conditions such as hypertension, stroke, and memory loss.

At The Medical City, getting older doesn’t have to mean a lesser quality of life. Through its Center for Healthy Aging, you can get the care and guidance you need to reach a healthy, ripe old age. For inquiries, please call the Center at 988-1000 / 988-7000 ext. 6576. (end)

Healthy travel tips during summer vacation

Dr. Christian J. Flores, from The Medical City Center for Wellness and Aesthetics, gives us the following tips for a healthy trip this Holy Week and Summer vacation:

Before the trip

• Consult your family doctor at least four weeks before travel.

• Ask about special vaccines that are recommended for specific destinations. “This is very important especially in countries with high prevalence of a particular disease. It is more practical to spend money in disease prevention rather than spending for treatment when the disease has already affected you,” said Dr. Flores.

• Pack Smart: Hand carry your first aid and medical kit containing regular and special medication for the trip. Dr. Flores said “the usual medications should include paracetamol for fever, any pain reliever such as mefenamic acid or ibuprofen, for dizziness/motion sickness such as betahistine, and loperamide for diarrhea during transit/travel.  Antibiotics are not usually recommended.”

Dr. Flores explained that bringing antibiotics is discouraged. “Fever can be caused by many things. It could be caused by a virus, bacteria, or a fungus and there is no super antibiotic that can target all of these,” Dr. Flores said.

• If the traveler develops fever, a good first aid would be an antipyretic such as Acetaminophen. After that, it is recommended that the traveler be seen by a doctor so that the proper treatment can be administered. Taking antibiotics left and right, even for fever, without proper medical evaluation may lead to antibiotic abuse and resistance which may actually be difficult to treat later on.

• NSAID (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are the major class of pain relievers used for various causes of pain. It’s not really used for fever per se but may be an adjunct for fever with headache/body pains.

• Inquire about evacuation and travel insurance to cover health emergencies while abroad.

During the trip

• Fever during travels warrant expert evaluation by a medical professional.

• Take precautions against mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria when you visit areas at risk. Prevent mosquito bites by bringing protective clothing and repelant lotions and take malaria propylaxis as advised by your doctor.

• Consume only safe food and water. Keep yourself hydrated at all times. “If possible, bring your own supply of water,” said Dr. Flores. Have a supply of medicine for self treatment of diarrhea.

• Minimize excessive sun exposure by using sunscreen with adequate SPF. “In addition, the use of eye protection such as dark glasses is advised in glaring, bright environments,” said Dr. Flores.

• Be careful when dealing with animals. Animal bites or scratches can transmit rabies. Seek immediate help if bitten.

• Include rest time in your travel itinerary to recover from any fatigue. “In travelling on a different time zone, it is important to prepare yourself a day or two prior to the trip. Adjust your sleeping time accordingly so that you blunt the full effects of jet lag. Taking melatonin does not guarantee a jet lag free travel,” said Dr. Flores.

• When sightseeing, wear comfortable shoes, a hat and sunscreen.

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