Despite previous beliefs, the elderly traveller has an overall mortality risk that is similar to that at home.

Things to consider when travelling include:

  • A complete medical examination prior to travel. This should include a medication review as well as an assessment of their general fitness for the particular journey.
  • Be up to date on routine vaccinations, with particular attention to influenza and pneumonia vaccination.
  • Increased susceptibility to temperature change and malaria – avoid excessive sun and strenuous activity, plan for frequent rests, access air-conditioned rooms, drink more fluids, wear loose clothing and have cool baths / showers.
  • Increased susceptibility to dehydration and fluid and electrolyte imbalance from traveller’s diarrhoea – take medications and clearly written advice on early self treatment as per The Traveller’s Pocket Medical Guide and International Certificate of Vaccination.
  • Constipation is a frequent problem at all ages, but worse with dehydration and immobility as with prolonged travel – pack favourite medication in the first aid kit. In cool climates, there is increase sensitivity to hypothermia- layer clothing and protect the head and extremities.

Other recommendations include:

  • Dental and optometric review
  • Travel health insurance with pre-existing illness cover
  • Luggage with built in wheels may save back injuries as well as exhaustion
  • A spare pair of glasses, lens prescription and extra medications should be packed along with a relevant medical ‘first aid’ kit
  • A doctor’s letter detailing a list of relevant medical conditions, a copy of a recent ECG, current generic medications, and allergies
  • A list of medical contacts in the area to be visited

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