Traveling Tips for Seniors

Seeing the wonders of the world and exploring little known hamlets and villages ranks high on most people’s to-do lists. As a senior, you have more time than most, but you will also face a few additional challenges even as you engage in all kinds of fun activities. But there’s no need for these challenges to keep you from your dreams of travel and exploration. Whether you want to travel abroad during the holidays, meet up with family in faraway places or are just stopping in for a visit, these tips can help you make the most of your travel time.

Set Up a Designated Travel Account

Identity theft and pickpocketing are both big problems for travelers, regardless of where you are. You can get special protective plans that will provide you with the coverage that you need as well as a number of helpful monitoring services. The catch to this, though, is that these services are typically on a per card basis, and they can quickly add up. According to USA Today, protection for a single card could cost anywhere $10 – $30 a month, depending on the package that you choose. However, if you use multiple cards, the costs for protecting each one can pile up and the service may become less effective. Instead, make sure that you have a Mastercard or Visa, or another card that will be accepted at most locations. Opt for extra protection on this card, and only carry it when you travel. You should also carry a small amount of cash to help you in an emergency. Just make sure that you carry it in a separate location from your credit card.

Be Prepared

A number of challenges that come from traveling as a senior revolve around increased medical and special needs. Even if you aren’t planning on more than a day trip, you’ll want to make sure that you have everything that you might need, particularly when it’s necessary for your health. For medications, make sure that you carry a full period’s dosage for however long you are going to be gone plus one more. For oxygen tanks, you can purchase a portable oxygen concentrator to allow you greater mobility.

Always Call Ahead

Traveling with a scooter or any other form of mobility assistance adds a few challenges of its own. Increased security, as well as other procedures for getting in and out of secure locations, can easily add hours onto your travel plans. Rather than risk missing the train or plane, find out in advance what security needs from you and what you can do to make it as quick as possible. Also bear in mind that, depending on where you’re traveling, the facilities you are using may not actually have room for scooters, wheelchairs and the like. Since these tickets are often nonrefundable, you need to make sure that they can accommodate you before you hand over your money.

Never Leave Without Travel Insurance

Even when you’re trying to cut costs in other ways, travel insurance is the one thing you don’t want to go without. You will probably have an item or two that you have to take with you and that is quite valuable. Travel insurance policies protect your belongings and even you in your travels. In some cases, you can even obtain travel insurance that will cover medical and health

expenses. Remember that most health insurance policies are often limited to the United States or have significantly longer claims processes for medical emergencies overseas. Travel insurance is designed to provide you with the emergency funds you need as you need them and to get you through.

Consider a Home Rental Agreement for Your Tour

Staying in hotels can be quite expensive, and that cost can decrease the amount of time that you have to spend with your loved ones. One of the ways that you can help save yourself money is to rent a house during your time. You’ll want to follow the same evaluation on these rental houses as you would on a regular one, even though you’ll only be staying for a week or so at a time. The added benefit of renting a home for your vacation is the fact that you will have greater flexibility and adaptability in your living. You can even store the Christmas presents that you might be bringing for your friends and family in the extra space you’ll have.

Hire a Travel Assistant

Caregivers are best known for assisting people at home, but you can also sometimes hire them to come with you on your travels. In some cases, the ideal person might be a family member or a younger friend. But you may feel more comfortable hiring someone to handle the travel arrangements, help you carry the equipment, and so on. If you have more advanced medical needs, then you will want to hire someone with sufficient medical skills to assist you. Finding such an individual is often best done by contacting your travel insurance agency, and this may even be covered in a senior-specific travel plan. Bear in mind that such coverage will significantly increase the premium, though.

Have a Doctor’s Name for Every Location You Will Be Staying In

You never know when you might need a doctor, and there are few things more terrifying than being in a foreign country or a strange place, getting sick, and not knowing who to call. Before you travel, get a list of names of doctors written down on paper, including phone numbers and addresses. Coordinate these with doctors or hospitals listed on your travel insurance or health insurance if possible. This way, if something happens, you have the information you need.

Traveling is a wonderful way to spend time, whether with family or during the holidays. You’ll want to make sure that you are adequately prepared for the trip. Making the proper preparations is essential for getting the most out of your trip. Just make sure that you’re safe. Few things ruin a vacation or trip abroad more than sickness or injury.

About the Author

Scott Ridl has been with Oxygen Concentrator Store since 2008 and is passionate about topics relating oxygen and oxygen therapy. He enjoys sharing his knowledge about oxygen to help educate patients on the options they have.

Caring for an Elder: The Healing Process after a Stroke

My mom had a stroke two years ago. The healing process is still ongoing, and I remember even just a year ago she would suddenly burst into tears if she was having a particularly rough go of it that day. She would be so disappointed with herself for not being able to do things as she did before – from flying her own plane over the countryside to adventurously riding her horses by herself. There is still healing to be done, but she has made huge strides. As a first time caregiver, it can get a bit overwhelming to deal with, but understanding the healing process really helps.

Healing from a stroke is a slow process.

I remember my sister brought over her children to visit us not long after the stroke, and my mother got so overwhelmed with the kids and having her mind flooded with happy memories from her past, “healthy” self.

If you are caring for an elder recovering from a stroke, I am sure you have experienced some of what I have discussed. The main goals of a caretaker should be to maintain a positive attitude in the stroke victim with emotional support and an environment of mental and physical healing in addition to ensuring that a second stroke does not occur.

Emotional support

This part can be quite trying, but also very rewarding. I’ve never been closer to my mother, and I am so glad I’ve been able to care for her at my home even though it has been stressful. Remember to care for yourself too! It’s important to deal with the stress inherent in caregiving – ask for help from other family members and get plenty of alone time!

Mental healing

Stimulating and teaching the areas of the brain to function in ways they never have before isn’t as hard as it seems. There is a free app we love called Mind Games that helps with many things including memory and critical thinking. There are many brain fitness programs to help mentally sharpen any mind, whether the elder wants to lower his or her risk of dementia or heal after a stroke.

In addition to the app my mother uses, we play board games and card games. This is not just for fun, but also to exercise her mind. The more she uses it, the more quickly and efficiently she can think. The goal is to get to the same level as where she was mentally before the stroke, and I fully believe in her ability to get there.

Physical healing

Physically strengthening the body with exercise including aerobic and muscle training is very important in the healing process. My mother’s left side of her body was still very weak a year and a half ago, but now it is stronger and nearly completely healthy.

We go on 30 minutes worth of brisk walks daily in addition to the occasional yoga or Tai Chi classes we take. At first my mother was too weak for 30 minutes of walking, so we split into small chunks throughout the day. We also heard about how it is that exercising the right side of her body (that wasn’t weakened by the stroke) can actually help strengthen the weaker left side as well and have started giving that a try.

This seemed counterintuitive to us too, but a new study in Experimental Brain Research has found that strengthening one side of the body actually cross-educates to the other side too. The muscles on the side that isn’t getting exercised receives new connections to the brain, and participants found equivalent strength gains in both legs after 25 minute sessions three times a week.

Medication

Healing can mean taking medication to prevent blood clots from forming. My mother has a heart condition called Atrial Fibrillation, which causes the blood to pool in the heart as the heart beats irregularly. Anticoagulants work really well for her, but they can be dangerous depending on which drug you get. Always be aware of the dangers of drug side effects. It’s better to know what the risks are than to pay with your health for any ignorance later. A good example is the Pradaxa lawsuits due to irreversible internal bleeding.

With emotional support and mental and physical healing, there is life after a stroke. With patience, positivity, and taking a day at a time, you and your loved one will get through the healing process.

About the Author

Madeline Ferdinand is a writer for DrugNews.net. Her main goal is to keep the old youthful and the youthful wise. She likes piña coladas and getting caught in the rain (in moderation of course).

4 Ways to Spend Time Together

Recent studies suggest that an excess of sleep can be harmful, leading to thyroid disease, kidney and liver disease, depression and even dementia. People who sleep too much or too little are more likely to die at an earlier age, also. Somewhat disappointing news for those of us who enjoy a few extra zzzs on our days off, but news that should, in so many ways, wake us up. For patients in all stages of dementia, these hours can be difficult to fill, especially for the new caregiver, who may be overwhelmed by their new responsibilities.

It’s long been known that engagement of the mind and body are crucial to memory care, but finding ways to keep seniors active (especially in winter) can be difficult—for ideas, go here. Finding activities that a caregiver, senior, and grandchild can enjoy together present an even greater challenge. Sometimes though, it isn’t as difficult as you might think. Things that you find enjoyable may also be enjoyable to the senior in your life.

Volunteer

The experience of helping others is rewarding for people of all ages. Fortunately, volunteering (especially around the holidays) happens across a variety of platforms, which means that children and seniors with physical handicaps, memory loss, etc. will still be able to participate. Volunteer work might consist of filing paperwork for a local food bank, petting cats at an animal shelter, or helping serve children lunch at a nearby elementary school.

For seniors that have been active, the transition to an assisted living facility can be difficult, since many do not facilitate activities. Outside volunteer work helps the senior, the family, and the community.

Play Chess

The game of chess can be enjoyed by many and requires little mobility—perfect for older folks and children who tire easily. If you or your loved one doesn’t know how to play the game, make a day of learning it. It can take as much or as little time as you have, and actively engages the brain.

Bonus points if you can find boards in a park (like this) or bring your own. Playing in a park gives everyone some great access to fresh air and allows for a bit of exercise before, after, or between games!

Wii Fit

We’re so fortunate to have access to various kinds of technology these days—why not take advantage of it! The Nintendo Wii Fit offers a variety of simple (and more complex) exercises for you, your children, and your senior. There are yoga and step aerobics programs, bowling, and a variety of other games. Video games have proven their effectiveness as a form of memory care, and the Wii Fit adds the benefit of exercise.

Seniors are becoming increasingly involved in technological pursuits, so why not utilize equipment you have to create a fun and accessible workout plan for the whole family?

Sunday Drive

This Sunday, do more than just curse those slow Sunday drivers—become one! Drives are great because they’re easy for everyone, simple to prepare for, and fun for the whole family. When you’re driving, consider listening to a special mix tape that can bring back feelings of nostalgia. Try an audio book or podcast. Turn the radio off all together and enjoy the company of your family in a quiet space.

You may also find that you discover new activities together as you are driving around. Stop and try new things—grab some ice cream at that new shop, rent a paddle boat, or explore the nearby mountains. Either way, a Sunday drive can provide a great setting in which to discuss your lives—a true bonding experience.

Remember, being a caregiver can mean a lot of different things, and it can also be stressful. With some work, you can make the experience (whether your senior is living at home, in an assisted living facility, or senior living community) rewarding for everyone. This is your chance to bring your family closer together with some quality time spent doing some things you’ll all love!

About the Author

Madison Hill could bake her way out of a paper bag, but she hopes she never has to. She lives in Seattle where she cares for her mother and drinks ungodly amounts of coffee every morning, noon, and night. In her spare time, she writes about trends in senior care for Care Compare.

Caring for Seniors This Winter

The winter months bring all sorts of exciting prospects for family fun. Whether it’s baking cookies, decorating the house or just relaxing by the fire, colder days can bring us closer together and remind us of what’s most important.

On the flip side, winter also carries a new set of hazards that can pose problems for families if they’re not ready. Things like snow-ins and power failures can be a household burden if you haven’t taken some steps to deal with them ahead of time.

That means now, more than ever, it’s up to you to give your elderly relatives some added attention. As a caregiver, you’re responsible for more than just your own safety.

To help you get started, here’s a list of guidelines and ideas for making a smooth seasonal transition.

Get Prepared

If you haven’t put together a cold-weather emergency kit, now’s a good time to gather some supplies. To accommodate for seniors, pack in some extra blankets, some softer non-perishable foods and any medications they may need. On the off-chance your family is stranded for a few days, you’ll need to take special care of your seniors’ health and happiness.

Move Quickly

Winter storms can happen in a flash, so you can’t afford to respond slowly. Ask your elderly family members if they’re interested in a motorized scooter or chair. Just like giving up the car keys, it can be a touchy subject for seniors; try not to push. Help them recognize that our bodies all start to slow down at some point, and there’s no shame in getting some help.

See a Doctor

The immune system weakens as we age. And after years of fighting off infection and disease, it’s only fair that seniors get some extra assistance. Once flu season ramps up and the colder weather blows in, it’s that much more important to take your senior family members to the doctor’s office. A layman’s diagnosis might not be enough in certain cases.

Stay Limber

Once we get on in years, we should all adopt a newfound responsibility for our bodies. As the joints start to stiffen and the pulse begins to slow, stretching and exercise become key pieces of a senior’s day-to-day. See if you can get your hands on some weighted dumbbells or elastic bands, and encourage your senior family members to work out at least a few times a week.

Shop Right

Once the temperature drops, we want to stay inside as much as possible. So when you make the rarer trek to the mall or grocery store, make smart purchases for the seniors in your family. Stock up on warm clothing, blankets and high-fiber groceries that won’t go bad. Look for cereals and nuts you can keep in your cabinet for months at a time.

Practice fire safety

Every home needs a fire safety plan, regardless of how young or old the occupants may be. Being prepared to evacuate your home as quickly and safely as possible takes on added importance when you consider that seniors may be less mobile than other members of the household. Draw up an appropriate emergency evacuation plan, practice it regularly and be sure everyone follows basic fire safety guidelines.

Be Realistic

It’s a sad thought, but there comes a time when you may have to look at assisted living communities for your loved ones. Are you fully equipped to care for a senior this winter? If you can’t commit the time or resources, start looking around the area for well-regarded elder care facilities. It’s tough to let go, but it’s often for the best.

About the Author

By Elle Aldridge, a safety & security expert and editor for Home Security System.  Follow her on twitter @ElleEAldridge