by: Lois G. Tager, M. Ed., CSA
Director of Geriatric Care Management, Litherland, Kennedy & Associates, APC, Attorneys at Law
Airline travel preparedness will save you many moments of anxiety and exhaustion. Wendy Perrin, Conde Nast Traveler’s Consumer Travel Expert, tells us to be sure to confirm your flights at least 72 hours prior to your departure. Did you know that if you do not confirm your flight 72 hours prior to the flight and there is a change of departure time and you miss your flight, you may not be reimbursed for the missed flight?
Make copies of your itinerary and give one to someone you trust and who needs to know where you are staying; one for your suitcase and one for you to carry. The latest suggestion is to take a picture with your cell phone and send it to a family member. Anyone with a medical condition should have a list of medications and the names and telephone numbers of your physicians in the event of a medical problem when away from home. This will also allow for a quick replacement if medications are lost.
If you are traveling with a senior who does not have proper identification such as a passport or license, an ID card can be obtained at the local Department of Motor Vehicles. To go through security, one must have a valid state or federal issued ID. If it is not possible to get to the DMV, a birth certificate and credit card may be accepted. However, check with your airline to be sure that this alternative ID will be accepted. Out of date passports and driver’s licenses are not accepted by the government which handles security.
If you need a wheelchair, ask the baggage handler when you check-in at curbside. One will be provided along with an attendant to help you to the gate. If a restroom is needed, the attendant will wait until you return to the wheelchair. If your loved one needs to be accompanied into the restroom, there are family restrooms available. Family restrooms are especially helpful when a female is accompanying a male who needs help or vice versa.
If it is necessary to carry oxygen onto the plane, one must obtain a “Physician Consent Form for Individual Who Needs to Use a Portable Oxygen Concentrator During a Flight”. The form must have the heading of the physician writing the consent form. The form may be obtained on most airline websites under “Travel Tools or Policies”.
Staying healthy while traveling is a challenge but there are few steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved one against airborne germs and other in-flight hazards.
- Bring along disinfectant wipes for the arms and tray tables.
- Combat Dehydration – The air on planes is very dry. The low humidity dehydrates your body, which can cause excessive fatigue and jet lag and irritate upper respiratory passages, making them more susceptible to infection. Drink plenty of water in-flight, at least eight ounces per hour is recommended. Contact-lens wearers should be sure to take eye drops because dehydration reduces tear volume.
- Keep Your Legs Happy – Both pressure changes and cramped seats cause feet and ankles to swell. Don’t wear new or tight shoes or cross your legs. Take hourly walks through the cabin. Take off your shoes and elevate your feet if possible.
- Avoid hunger – Bring along nutritious snacks – a sandwich, an apple, a granola bar or cheese. If you are traveling with a diabetic, be sure to have foods available on long fights. Crackers and sugary snacks served occasionally by the airline are often inappropriate for diabetics.
If you are traveling with a loved one who suffers from dementia, be sure not to leave your loved one alone – at any time. People with dementia often cannot follow directions and many a person has been lost when left on their own even for a few minutes.
Contact your credit card companies to let them know where and for how long you will be traveling, especially if you are going abroad and plan to use your ATM card. American banks may freeze your credit/debit cards in certain countries to protect against fraud.
Do not over pack! Take only what is needed; choose a basic color such as black and add accessories to change the look such as colorful tops and a jacket or two. Be sure to check the weather in your destination city so you will have the correct clothing. Leave expensive jewelry at home if you are traveling overseas and place what you are leaving at home in a safe place like a safe-deposit box. If possible, do not pack clothing or anything else that you cannot afford to lose. Traveling light is traveling smart!
The holidays represent a busy time for the airlines. Therefore, arrive early at the airport, well prepared and patient. Have a great trip!
ABOUT THE Litherland, Kennedy & Associates, APC, Attorneys at Law
Roy W. Litherland is an attorney whose practice emphasizes elder law and estate planning. Roy has practiced law in the greater Bay Area for the last 37 years and is certified as a legal specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. In addition to his extensive legal background, Roy was also previously licensed as a Certified Public Accountant. Although Roy has an extensive background in accounting, he retired his license to practice as a CPA to devote his time and energy entirely to the practice of law, specializing in estate planning, trusts, Medi-Cal planning, and probate. Roy is a noted speaker on living trusts, Medi-Cal Planning, and estate planning. He is a member and designated Fellow of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, an organization that fosters excellence in estate planning.
Lois Tager, Director of Geriatric Care Management, holds a Masters in Education, specializing in counseling and psychotherapy from Providence College, a Bachelor of Science in Education from Boston University and is a Certified Senior Advisor and Geriatric Care Manager. Lois worked in the Bay Area as an instructor in healthcare at West Valley College and maintained a private practice in counseling for many years. Lois has worked with the Alzheimer’s Association for the past 12 years as a facilitator for caregiver groups. She published “Sundown Syndrome: A Primer” in the CSA Journal of the Society of Certified Senior Advisors, CSA Journal 46, 2010. She authored a column “Ask Lois” for the Alzheimer’s Association Monterey County Newsletter and wrote numerous articles. She is a former columnist for AOL’s Campbell Patch, Senior Corner, an on-line news column.
The Litherland, Kennedy & Associates, APC, Attorneys at Law is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.
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