Still, experts say it’s a good idea for older people to prepare by having a “medical checklist” to ensure both regular care and help with any problems that emerge when they’re far from their home.
“Snowbirds should have their medical checklists completed a month before departing for their long-term destination,” said Isabel Valdez, assistant professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
“The #1 thing I recommend is establishing care with an additional primary care physician at their long-term destination in the fall and winter who can coordinate with their home physician,” she said. said in a college press release.
Check with insurers or friends and family who live in the destination to find a reputable primary care physician. Make sure the doctor can communicate with the doctor at home, Valdez suggested.
If you need to have a specialist medical exam while you’re away, work with insurers to find one that’s covered.
“Some medical conditions that require specialist care may only require an appointment once or twice a year,” Valdez said. “You may only need to see the specialist in your home country, but checking with your home doctor and your insurers to find a specialist in your network at your travel destination is a good idea. .”
It is also important to travel with the medications you take daily, such as antidepressants or those dealing with chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, or thyroid problems.
Pack additional prescription creams, inhalers, insulin pens or vials, and keep them nearby, Valdez suggested. blood pressure monitors and glucometersas well as needles, syringes and lancets, should also be available during their journey and at their destination, she said.
Pack a fresh 90-day supply of necessary medications to ensure you have enough for your stay. You may be able to use local, national or mail-order pharmacies to ensure you have an adequate supply if your trip extends beyond 90 days.
Shipping times may be extended due to the holiday season. Valdez therefore suggests making sure that a local pharmacy in person can receive prescriptions from your doctors.
If your home and destination doctors share the same electronic medical record software, this can be useful. But whether they do or not, it’s always helpful to travel with a physical or electronic copy of your medical records, Valdez suggested.
Also send the doctors at your destination a copy of your medical power of attorney, she recommended. Have an up-to-date will, in case of a life-altering emergency.
“While we hope never to have to use it, a medical power of attorney is something doctors want to make sure is on file so we can make the best decisions for our patients and their loved ones,” Valdez said. .
Have planned surgeries or procedures three months before travel, to give yourself time to recover and get proper follow-up, Valdez said. Delay your trip if you need to have an emergency procedure or extend your stay if this emergency occurs at your destination.
“First and foremost, the most important thing we want to keep in mind is patient safety,” Valdez said. “There could be travel risks soon after the procedures, so you don’t want to put yourself at risk until you receive a clean bill of health from your provider.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more advice on safe travel for seniors.
SOURCE: Baylor College of Medicine, press release, October 27, 2022