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Parkinson's Travel Tips

Thursday October 02, 2014

As the weather changes many of us take to the road or air for travel. Follow these simple tips to insure a safe and comfortable experience. 

The following problems can be avoided or minimized:

  • Muscle tightness from inactivity
  • Motor off times precipitated by skipped medicine dosage or increase in activity
  • Increased dyskinesia from stress
  • Freezing while walking in tight crowded areas
  • Leg swelling from extended periods of sitting (car or plane)
  • Falls from fatigue or walking in new surroundings

These simple steps can help you move and feel better:

  • Move frequently
    • Pull over every few hours to stretch your legs while driving.
    • Ask for an aisle seat on the plane. If needed your doctor may be able to supply you a letter of necessity to insure this happens
    • Stretch your legs, back shoulders and arms when possible
    • Simple activities such as pumping your legs, stretching you calf muscles can be done anywhere.
    • Elevate your feet when sitting to avoid pooling of blood and lymph in feet
  • Optimize your medicines
    • Bring a watch or pill box with alarm so you don’t forget doses during your busy schedule
    • Get clear instructions from your doctor about how to handle medicine timing with changes in time zones
    • Ask your doctor how to manage off times or concerns about ‘your medicines’ wearing off during times of increased activity. Can your medicines be increased if needed or will this bring more serious side effects
    • Store medicines in your carry-on bag in the event your luggage s lost.
    • Bring extra doses of medicine if traveling abroad
    • Bring with you and up to date accurate list of medicines in the event of an emergency
    • Remember protein can interfere with absorption of levodopa. Keep this in mind if you are eating more often (cruises!) or drastically change your diet.
  • Control your environment
    • Learn about where you are going, associated risks or transportation issues
    • Rent a wheelchair or walker for distances if you think you will need one
    • Ask for a hotel room that is ADA (American Disability Act) compatible so you have more space if you tend to freeze. These rooms are often equipped with shower chairs and grab bars.
    • Keep clutter and other fall hazards to a minimum in the event you need to use the bathroom at night
    • Consider eating out or going to activities during ‘off hours’ to avoid being rushed, minimize crowding, and insure you can be heard in a conversation.
  • Minimize stress
    • Don’t pack your schedule every day and be flexible in the event you are having a down day
    • Plan ahead so you know where you are going
    • Get the sleep you need, schedule a needed nap if possible
    • Plan activities during off hours to avoid long waits in line, crowded restaurants or activities

Monique L. Giroux, MDMonique L. Giroux, MD
Guest Blogger, Former Medical Director of NWPF

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