Media releases

3 April 2012

Grey nomads urged to plan ahead

Older Western Australians travelling north for Easter are being urged to plan ahead to avoid health issues.

Acting Executive Director Public Health and Clinical Services, Dr Andy Robertson said that with many older people leaving their homes this time of year, it was important they took precautions to avoid unexpected health complications.

Dr Robertson said maintaining medication regimes and taking measures to avoid mosquito-borne viruses were two important considerations for older travellers.

"It is easy for people on the move and not in their usual routines to forget to take their medicines and this can have adverse consequences for their health," Dr Robertson said.

Dr Robertson said travellers could avoid medication mishaps by:

  • Remembering to pack medications and repeat scripts.
  • Ensuring medications were stored properly, so their efficacy was maintained.
  • Ensuring medications could be accessed easily when needed.
  • Ensuring scripts were filled ahead of time, to avoid running out of medication.
  • Keeping doctor, pharmacy, family and emergency numbers handy.
  • Discussing with their GP or pharmacist any health issues that may impact on their travel plans.
  • Asking their GP to provide a list of current medications. 
  • Putting in place a medication reminder system to ensure medications are taken on time (this could include setting an alarm).

A medicines list template and an iPhone app that helps people keep a record of their medicines and reminds them when to take them can be found at www.nps.org.au/consumers/tools_and_tips/iphone_medicines_list

Dr Robertson said mosquito-borne viruses, including Murray Valley Encephalitis, Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus, were also a risk to people travelling north, especially those camping near wetlands.

Dr Robertson said travellers could minimise their risk of being bitten by mosquitoes by:

  • Wearing long, loose-fitting and light-coloured clothing. Mosquitoes can bite through clothing that is tight against the skin, including denim jeans.
  • Applying an effective mosquito repellent to any areas of exposed skin. Lotion and gel formulations containing diethyl toluamide (DEET) or Picaridin are the most effective.
  • Installing mosquito nets around bedding.
  • Where possible, avoiding outdoor activity around dawn, sunset and the hours immediately after sunset when mosquitoes were most active.

Detailed information on mosquito-borne diseases can be found at www.public.health.wa.gov.au/3/1187/2/mosquitoborne_diseases.pm

Media Contact: 9222 4333

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