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Medical & Safety Issues: Older People on Holiday

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 27 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Medical Safety Checks Travelling Abroad

Medical travel insurance is vital when travelling abroad, regardless of the holidaymaker’s age. But there are a few other medical and safety issues for older people to consider when travelling or holidaying abroad.

More UK Retirees Travelling Abroad

Older people and retirees from the UK are taking more holidays abroad than ever before. Cheap flights, holiday discounts for retirees and inexpensive off peak holiday packages are the reasons why older people are heading abroad. Holidays and travelling are pleasurable but illness and injury abroad can be extremely distressing and costly. Older people should take some precautions before and during travel to ensure they are covered if mishaps abroad do occur. It might not be possible to cover all medical and safety issues but there are some easy to make checks that can prove helpful.

Travelling Abroad and Medical Prescriptions

Medical prescriptions are of course very important to have when on holiday or travelling abroad. It is important to ensure that medicine can last for the length of the holiday. It may be worthwhile requesting extra from a GP in case medicine does go missing; it’s not uncommon for luggage to go missing en route. Vital medicines should always be packed in hand luggage and carried onto a plane. Always carry details of any medicine and the prescribing doctor’s name in case prescriptions have to be filled abroad.

Always Carry the European Health Insurance Card

The European Health Insurance Card should always be taken if travelling to a country in the European Economic Area (EEA). This health card has replaced the previous E111 and entitles card holders to reduced or free state provided healthcare. This card is free of charge to residents in the UK and has a five year validity period. The European Health Insurance Card is not an alternative to medical travel insurance and will not cover private medical costs. Holidaymakers from the UK should always ensure they have medical travel insurance and the European Health Insurance Card.

Safety Measures before Travelling Abroad

There are a number of easy to implement safety measures before travelling abroad. Always carry details of medical conditions in a wallet or on a medical bracelet or ID tag. Visit a doctor before travelling to request a pre holiday check-up. Make sure that holiday and contact details abroad are kept with friends or family in the UK. Emergency telephone contact numbers should be programmed into a mobile phone under the name ‘ICE’. In Case of Emergency or ‘ICE’ will be the name that medical professionals look for in mobile phones in medical emergencies.

Always Take Out Medical Travel Insurance

It is not uncommon for people to travel abroad on holiday for a few weeks with absolutely no medical travel insurance. Having to spend a day in hospital in Mediterranean countries can cost as much as £300. Medical treatment in hospitals in America can cost uninsured holidaymakers tens of thousands of pounds. Holidaymakers who are not insured can also be charged thousands if they are required to be flown home. Medical travel insurance is inexpensive and can be bought when purchasing holidays or even at airports.

Safety Precautions during Holidays Abroad

No one can plan for every medical emergency but a few sensible precautions should ensure peace of mind. Precautions when travelling abroad should include:

  • Always take prescription medicines at regular times as would be taken in the UK, even if routines are different abroad
  • Inform tour guides of any relevant medical conditions
  • Always carry medical information including details of allergies
  • Stay properly hydrated abroad and always eat well balanced meals
  • Do not over exercise or ignore sun protection
  • Make a note of emergency facilities in the intended holiday destination
  • Buy and wear a medical ID bracelet for travelling and holidaying abroad
  • Designate a medical emergency contact in the UK and keep their phone number under the abbreviation ‘ICE’ in mobile phones

Holidays are a time to relax and take it easy but existing medical conditions should not be taken for granted. Ensuring that proper medical safety checks have been made should give peace of mind when on holiday or travelling abroad. Anyone who has serious medical problems such as heart complaints should request a holiday check-up from their GP before travelling abroad.

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