Seniors 60 years of age and older make up an increasingly large proportion of Canadian travellers. If you are an older traveller, you may be immunocompromised, or have chronic medical conditions, such as obesity, that put you at risk of developing more severe disease or outcomes from COVID-19.
By choosing to stay home in Canada, you can help protect yourself, your family and those at risk of more severe disease from the effects of COVID-19 in our communities.
The protection you received from vaccines when you were younger decreases over time. This could increase your risk of getting some diseases. Discuss your immunization history with your health care professional before you travel.
Visit a health care professional to find out if any other vaccines are required or recommended for your destination.
With increasing age, it may take your body longer to develop immunity. If possible, get vaccinated well in advance of travel( so that you have enough time to develop immunity.
You should call ahead to determine if the vaccine will be available at one of Canada's Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres as there is an ongoing shortage of the only yellow fever vaccine authorized for sale in Canada (YF-VAX®).
If the health care professional determines you should not receive the vaccine for medical reasons, they will provide you with a medical waiver.
Influenza (flu) season usually runs from November to April in the Northern hemisphere, from April to October in the Southern hemisphere, and year-round in tropical regions.
If you did not receive the flu vaccine at the beginning of the season and are now planning to travel, consider getting the flu shot. It is important to get it well in advance so that you develop immunity before your departure.
Older travellers may be at an increased risk of severe, complicated, or fatal malaria.
If you are travelling to areas where malaria is present, a health care professional should discuss your risk with you and determine if anti-malarial medication is required.
Some anti-malarial medications can interact with medications you may already be taking. Make sure to bring a complete list of all your medications so the health care professional can assess potential drug interactions.
If you develop a fever while travelling or after returning home, seek medical attention immediately. Tell a health care professional that you have recently travelled to an area where malaria is present.
Older travellers have a higher risk of developing blood clots known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Risk factors (for example, cancer, congestive heart failure, or recent surgery) can also put you at greater risk of developing blood clots.
The risk of DVT can be reduced by getting up and walking around occasionally, exercising and stretching your legs while seated and selecting an aisle seat when possible. A health care professional may recommend additional ways to reduce your risk such as wearing compression stockings and/or taking preventative medication.
Older travellers may feel the effects of jet lag more than younger travellers.
Jet lag can develop after crossing multiple time zones. Symptoms of jet lag can include difficulty falling asleep at night, waking up earlier than usual, feeling irritable and tired.
You can minimize the symptoms of jet lag by:
getting more exposure to sunlight
eating at your usual mealtime in the new time zone
getting some exercise
drinking lots of water and staying well hydrated. It is important to limit or avoid alcohol and caffeine
Even if you can drive safely in a familiar environment, it can be difficult to safely adapt to different driving conditions such as
driving on the left side of the road
poor road conditions
a different vehicle.
Consider safer transportation options other than driving.
Remember to wear a seat belt, even when it is not required by law in the country you are in.
Environmental and recreational risks
Older travellers are generally at less risk of altitude sickness than younger travellers.
Being in good physical shape and ascending to high altitudes slowly can help your body adapt.
If you have heart or lung disease or diabetes, the health care professional may discuss other ways to help reduce the effects of altitude sickness.
Older people are at a higher risk of non-exercise-related heat stroke due to decreased sweat production and the use of certain medications.
Be aware of the early signs and symptoms of hypothermia (shivering, feeling tired, confusion, slow and shallow breathing) and frostbite (numbness or tingling, stinging or pain, and pale or waxy skin). Seek medical attention if you think you are developing hypothermia or frostbite.
Older people are more vulnerable to falls and are more likely to suffer serious injury if they fall.
Pathways and stairs may be uneven or poorly lit. Travellers with limited mobility or impaired balance might consider using a walking aid (for example, a cane or a walker) to prevent falls.
Complications from travellers’ diarrhea are a particular concern in older travellers with underlying medical conditions. Ask a health care professional if there are any extra precautions you should take.
Seek medical attention if the diarrhea is bloody, accompanied by a high fever, jaundice (yellow skin) or persistent vomiting, or if the dehydration does not improve despite the use of oral rehydration solutions.