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20 May 2014

Grey Nomads urged to plan ahead before heading north

Older Australians heading north to escape winter's chills have been urged to pack their medications along with their swimming costumes and beach towels to avoid a trip to hospital.

WA Health Chief Health Officer Dr Tarun Weeramanthri said it was important older people took measures to help protect their health such as maintaining their medication regime and ensuring scripts were filled ahead of time.

"People can become complacent when they are relaxed and on holiday, which can sometimes lead to them forgetting their regular medicines and putting their health at risk," Dr Weeramanthri said.

"Before leaving, travellers should meet with their GPs for a thorough health check and to discuss any health issues that may impact on their travel plans.

"A GP will also be able to provide patients with a current list of their medications, so they can take it with them on their travels.

"It is important to check medication for storage instructions, as the temperature inside a van or car in warm weather may rise beyond the recommended levels for safe storage." 

Dr Weeramanthri said by taking some simple steps before leaving home, people could help prevent any health-related interruptions to their holiday while also ensuring they don't place increased pressure on remote, smaller health services.

"In 2013, emergency department presentations at Exmouth Hospital increased as much as 50 per cent in the winter months compared with the summer months," he said.

"This increase does have the potential to affect patient care, so it's important that emergency departments are left for emergencies only.

"Exmouth Hospital employs an additional doctor over the tourist season to assist in coping with increased demand, but travellers also need to do their part to make sure they are taking responsibility for their own health and wellbeing."

Tips for older travellers include:

  • remember to pack medications and repeat scripts
  • ensure medications are stored properly, so their efficacy is maintained
  • ensure scripts are filled ahead of time, to avoid running out of medication
  • keep doctor, pharmacy, family and emergency numbers handy
  • put in place a medication reminder system to ensure medications are taken on time (this could include setting an alarm)
  • pack a first aid kit to use to mange small cuts and abrasions
  • seek advice regarding travel insurance and ambulance cover before leaving.

Media contact: 9222 4333

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