When thinking about road trips, you might envision college kids heading on adventures, but seasoned adults take road trips, too, according to a recent survey by Cigna.
Travel is a top priority for 37 percent of older adult respondents in the survey. In fact, more than 30 percent said they take three or more trips annually. Many of these trips take place during the holiday season when older adults hit the road to visit loved children and grandchildren.
With automobiles topping the list of older adults’ favorite ways to travel, Cigna is offering helpful tips for heading out on the highway this holiday season.
• Get shut-eye. The National Sleep Foundation recommends people 65 years and older get seven to eight hours sleep nightly. Unfortunately, 17 percent of older adults responding to the survey indicated they have trouble maintaining sleep schedules when traveling. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 91,000 crashes occurred in 2017 due to drowsy driving, resulting in 50,000 injuries and nearly 800 deaths. Repeated yawning is the first warning sign that it’s time to pull over and rest.
• Stretch your legs. Some long- distance travelers are at risk of a potentially dangerous condition called deep vein thrombosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though you should talk to your doctor if you feel you’re at risk, it’s a good idea for everyone to take breaks to stretch and walk around.
• Keep eyes healthy. Good eyesight is critical to safe driving. Before long trips, make sure you’ve had an eye exam and your prescription is up-to-date. Many Medicare Advantage plans cover annual eye exams and glasses.
• Prioritize safety. Twelve percent of older adults responding to the survey said they travel alone. Solo travelers should prioritize safety. Tell friends and family your route, destination and when to expect you. Also, check in occasionally so they know your trip is progressing well.
• Eat healthfully. Twenty-six percent of traveling seniors have difficulty eating healthfully while traveling, according to the survey. Avoid stocking the car with junk food. Instead, pack nutritious snacks, like fruits and vegetables. Plan ahead, finding restaurants with healthy fare along your route. If you have to eat fast food, make healthy choices like salads. Finally, drink water instead of soda. It’s healthier and will better hydrate you.
• Pack prescriptions. According to the Cigna survey, 96 percent of senior travelers get a large enough prescription supply to last the entire trip. One way to do this is by getting a 90-day fill. Write down your medication schedule and the names and numbers of your doctors and pharmacy in case you need them. If you have questions about changing time zones, talk to your pharmacist before leaving. Always carry medications in their original labeled containers to prevent anyone from mistaking them for other substances.
• Act quickly. For health-related emergencies, time is of the essence, so go to the nearest emergency room or hospital or call 911 as quickly as possible and then notify your insurance plan as soon as you reasonably can.
“Travel is an important part of older adults’ independence,” says Shannon Adams, who leads the Cigna customer experience team that completed the travel survey. “With a little planning and by knowing their limits, they can reach their destinations in good health.”