By Tricia of Allsup
The days are longer, the weather’s warming up…it must be time to take a vacation. Traveling can be a stressful experience for anyone, but for those with disabilities, it requires extra planning, preparation and packing.
Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Before You Leave
Do some research—make sure both your mode of transportation and destination are disability friendly. You may want to consider using a travel agent who specializes in travel for people with disabilities to do the legwork in locating accessible destinations and accommodations, especially if you are traveling with a service dog. When booking arrangements, let providers know of your disability. Also, check in with your treating physicians as you make your plans.
In the Air
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website has many helpful links for passengers with disabilities. The TSA Cares helpline, (855) 787-2227, is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST, and weekends and holidays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST. Travelers with hearing impairments can use a relay service to contact TSA Cares, or email TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov. The agency recommends contacting the helpline at least 72 hours before you plan to travel to learn what to expect and to coordinate checkpoint support.
As cruise lines become more disability friendly, accommodations on some lines include lower beds, roll-in showers, TDD devices, flashing alarms and signage in Braille or raised lettering. Most are wheelchair accessible, but be sure to check in advance. Some travel and cruise-booking websites highlight their best trips for people with disabilities. Some lines even offer lower rates for caregivers or other health attendants. But it’s always wise to call and double-check before booking.
On the Ground
All buses are required to be accessible to people with disabilities. One option is to contact the bus line to ensure that your needs will be met when you book your trip. For example, Greyhound has a Travel Assistance Line (800) 752-4841. If traveling by train, Amtrak offers additional services to customers with disabilities, such as at-seat meal delivery. Find tips about wheelchairs, service animals, use of oxygen equipment and much more at http://www.amtrak.com/accessible-travel-services.
Find other helpful hints from the following groups:
- U.S. State Department – Traveling with Disabilities features a list of several resource websites.
- Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality, provides a selection of resources and tips online.
- Mobility International USA highlights international travel opportunities and tips.
Many organizations recommend making your arrangements with as much advance notice as possible to benefit from available resources. With some advance planning, there’s a world of opportunity for safe and comfortable travel. Happy trails!
By Paula of Allsup
That’s the theme of this year’s Older Americans Month. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy designated May as a month to pay tribute to older people across the country. Ever since, May has been a month to honor the wealth of talent, experience and wisdom that our elders contribute to our communities.
This year’s celebration focuses on activity and encourages older Americans to “look for opportunities to show the vibrant life that you and your fellow older Americans lead.” The website is full of ideas for activities that enrich lives, from community gardening and volunteering, to painting a mural or choreographing a dance.
Staying Active, Staying Healthy
One key to staying active as we age is to be proactive about healthcare. That means getting the preventive care your doctor recommends, as well as regular treatment for any chronic health conditions.
It’s startling to realize that when President Kennedy declared the first Older Americans Month, only about half of older Americans had health insurance. Medicare didn’t exist until 1965. Now, 93 percent of Americans age 65 or older are enrolled in Medicare plans.
If you have Medicare, you can honor yourself this month by taking advantage of the many preventive services that Medicare plans offer at no charge. If you have loved ones with Medicare, encourage them to do something kind for themselves by getting up-to-date on their preventive care.
Staying Well, For Free
Start by calling your doctor to schedule your yearly “wellness” visit. At a wellness visit, you and your doctor sit down and develop a personalized plan to help you prevent disease and stay healthy.
Your doctor will determine if you are due for any preventive services, such as cancer or diabetes screenings. Medicare covers annual wellness visits.
Another way to be proactive about your healthcare is to review your Medicare plans every year. You want to make sure you’re enrolled in the plans that offer the best fit for your health and your budget.
In most cases, the time to do this is during Medicare’s annual enrollment period in the fall. But that’s a story for another day! For more information or questions, contact the Allsup Medicare Advisor® at (866) 521-7655.