Travel medicine update

Health protection for the older traveller

Travel medicine update

Health protection for the older traveller

Jonathan Cohen

Abstract

Increased age was once considered a contraindication to travel, but it is now thought that older travellers may have no greater risk of illness than those who stay at home. However, the following aspects should be considered before they depart.

Article Extract

With the increasing ease of access to most places on the globe, more people are taking the opportunity to travel to both routine and exotic destinations. A 1999 survey of 500 travellers showed that the percentage of Australian travellers over 50 years of age had increased from 33 to 38% in three years. While, in the past, increased age was generally considered to be a contraindication to travel, there is growing evidence to suggest that older travellers may have the same or lower risk of illness as their ‘stay-at-home’ counterparts. According to one large international study, the risk of death in travellers is approximately 1 in 100,000, much lower than in the general population. An Australian study reported a similar risk in travellers to that seen in the general population, the only difference being the place of death.

Regardless of risk, more people are now choosing to travel and there are a number of strategies that need to be implemented to protect their health.