Long-term ailments and conditions are affecting the lives of over four million UK over-65’s, and with an ever-increasing ageing population, this number is set to rise to around seven million by 2030 according to Lifeline24. A research study demonstrated that approximately 87% of seniors take a single prescription tablet each day and 35% take 5 or more, plus another 38% use medicine from their local pharmacy as well.
Managing this myriad of medications needed to keep certain conditions at bay on a daily basis can be confusing enough without the added complication of travelling abroad, and yet, with more time and extra funds on their hands, many retirees have been looking forward to their opportunity to travel the world in their later years and don’t want their medication to be the reason they can’t bring this dream to life. As such it is essential that they find a way to manage their medication while travelling as an ‘Old Age Patient’.
Some of the most common health problems faced by the elderly include arthritis, hypertension, asthma, cancer, chronic bronchitis, diabetes and heart disease, and most of these require varying degrees of daily medications. And yet, a study carried out by Ghent University in Belgium uncovered that only a meagre 17% of the participants had no issue of use or misuse on a daily basis with their medication. Shockingly this same study found that 66% of the participants didn’t take their full medication quota each day, 56% misused their prescriptions, and 40% both underused and misused their medication. Since such misuse can stop medications from being useful, resulting in serious side effects including endangering the life of the individual. As such, it is crucial to consider how seniors can best manage their medication while travelling which we will look at now:
1. It is essential to stick to specific guidelines when travelling later in life to ensure that you take the required medications safely and correctly, to keep you healthy and well on your adventures. Before travelling, discuss your plans with your doctor and go through any potential side effects or issues which could arise from travelling with your particular condition. While there, they can also help you to work out the changes to your schedule which a different time zone will create. This is crucial if you are to continue taking your medication accurately and ensure it is useful.
2. Your doctor can assist you in creating a medication schedule so that you can manage your requirements more effectively and efficiently while you are away, along with a medication list which should include the names of each prescription, vitamins and over-the-counter medicines, how often you take them, the dosage of each and what it treats. It is wise to create this kind of schedule and list even though you may know what you need to do and/or take on a day to day basis, because certain events whilst you are away can have adverse effects on your memory including jet lag, drinking alcohol or staying up later to enjoy the long, warm evenings. This kind of organization can also help caregiving professionals understand what you require and when in case of an emergency.
3. You must also gain a signed letter from your doctor for permission to travel with certain medication amounts, for example over 100ml of liquid on the aero plane), and equipment like syringes and insulin monitors. You could have this letter translated into the language of the country you are travelling to for eases sake in case of an emergency while you are away too.
4. Pre-sort your medication for the time you plan to be away and then double up your prescription in separate pots and keep them in two different travel bags in case one gets lost on your journey. Also, where possible during your holiday, keep your medication on your person or in your purse/wallet, and let one of your group know where you keep it in case of an emergency.
5. Keep all your medicines in their own containers so as not to mix them up and confuse yourself or others who may need to assist you with your medication.
6. Set up medication alarms on your phone or mobile caregiver app before you leave which will go off every time you need to take your medicines. You can set numerous alarms to go off each day and if in doubt, ask a friend or family member to help you do this. You may even like to take a chart with you to tick off each tablet you have taken. There are also numerous medication apps which you can download on to your phone that work as reminders.
7. Make sure your medication is up to date before you leave. With such long waiting times to see a GP, you could speak to one of the specialists at Click Pharmacy who offer a free medical consultation service from the comfort of your own home. You prescription is reviewed by one of their doctors, and you will then be issued with a private prescription so you can be sure that your medical requirements are accurate before you go even if you can’t get to your doctor’s surgery.
8. Certain medications such as insulin need to be kept at a certain temperature or in certain packaging and can degrade if they get too hot, too cold or mispackaged. Be mindful of how your medication will best travel and organize temperature sensitive bags if required.
9. Be aware of restrictions in travel with certain drugs and contact the airlines and airport in advance if necessary to advise them of certain items which will need to go through security or be placed on board the plane. For example, if you treat your diabetes with a pump or use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), there may be additional paperwork to fill out before you fly. Failure to inform them in advance could result in you being unable to travel, so it is indeed worth checking before you travel.
10. If food and drink interfere with your medication, then it is wise to check where and what you will be eating once you reach your destination. Research restaurants and local cuisine so that you do not have to worry once you are away.
If you have any doubts or concerns before you travel about any potential harmful interactions with your diet, or any other worries about your medication in general whilst you are away, you can speak to the health professionals at Click Pharmacy in your own time, either on the phone or on Skype, and get immediate, experts answers to your questions.