Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tip of the Day: Prepare Prudently for Increased Physical Activity Abroad

Not a day goes by that I don't at least pause and contemplate just how quickly advancing years seem to be clicking by.

It has often been said that the aging process is very much like a roll of toilet paper: The faster you get to the end of the roll, suddenly it reaches a cardboard core...and your done!

The truth be told, I turned 70 on June 1! Scary!

The above being said, I'm probably far better off than most folks my age and yet today's topic is to "flag" my concern for those of us who are both younger and older than I.

If I ran postings on every case of foreign travelers falling and injuring themselves and in many cases even falling to their death, there would be no room to offer our readers a balanced snapshot in how to avoid risks in all forms that we encounter when we go abroad.

In the course of the last week, perhaps it is nothing more than sheer coincidence, yet I've glanced over a dozen news accounts of people of all nationalities who are not only sustaining minor injuries, but in far too many cases are falling to their death from cliffs and canyons.

Largely because so much our global news these days is so superficial and/or incomplete, that media organizations rarely provide us sufficient detail to enable us to make prudent choices.

Let me to give you an example: 

I won't disclose the name of the media organization at risk of being perceived as critical, but in recent days I ran across a news piece which addressed foreign travelers. One account referred to a 48-year-old tourist who died in Madeira after falling down a ridge. The victim was apparently walking with her husband when she fell the from a height of twenty meters (66 feet).

The same source cited another tragic case, also in Madiera, where the bodies of a European couple, ages unknown, fell from a cliff and had been missing for several days.

COMMENT: I understand fully that I've raised a number of issues in the past, yet it is my hope that passing along these thoughts might well enable many of us that are grappling with age-related aches and pains to hopefully avoid injury and maybe avert premature death as we experience what the world has to offer:

1. If you're between the ages of 50-90, it is prudent to get a complete physical examination from your medical provider BEFORE traveling abroad that should minimally include: 

(a) Getting the necessary vaccinations for your destinations(s); 

(b) Obtaining prescriptions for illnesses such as intestinal afflictions caused by water or food contamination; 

(c) Measuring the patient's balance;

(d) Appropriate blood and urine analysis;

(e) Ensuring that no medical crisis will occur during your trip abroad; and

(f) Other diagnostics recommended by your physician.

3. One potential problem for all travelers is physical exertion while abroad that EXCEEDS your normal activity at home. 

If a patient is expected to exert themselves beyond normal limits, they should engage in pre-departure training that will replicate their expected level of exertion while abroad, preferably under the guidance of a physician;

4. One of the best activities for individuals planning to make a trip abroad should include stretching, providing that the patient is capable of undergoing such activity:

The below can be found: http://www.amazon.com:

Stretching: 30th Anniversary Edition, by Bob and Jean Anderson

Stretching for 50+ by Karl Knopf

The Anatomy of Stretching: Second Edition--Your Illustrated Guide to Flexibility and Injury Rehabilitation by Brad Walker

5. Talking to your medical provider to ensure that you are not undertaking physical activity that you cannot safely perform;

6. If you enjoy swimming, and are older than 50, ensure that you ALWAYS swim with a "buddy" in the event you are physically challenged;

7. Consider purchasing a heart monitor recommended by your physician so that you know the upper limits of your heart rate that you should not exceed; and

8. Consult the below link to the International Society of Travel Medicine for a list of travel clinics in your area: