Air travel is difficult for many people, but it especially can take a toll on seniors who suffer from chronic health conditions. One of the best ways to overcome those challenges is to maximize air travel assistance for seniors by providing them support throughout their journey.
For an increasing number of patients, that support comes from flight nurses who work in the field of non-emergency medical transport (NEMT). These experienced RNs specialize in medical flight services for those flying on a commercial airline. They work with people who have difficulty traveling for any number of reasons, including injuries suffered in an accident or chronic medical conditions that hinder mobility.
For seniors, traveling with a flight nurse can provide peace of mind and also practical support in dealing with the many issues that can arise during a flight.
Common Issues Faced By Seniors During a Flight
It’s important to maximize air travel assistance for seniors because of the many different issues they can face during a flight. Some of the common issues include the following.
- Difficulty breathing. Seniors with respiratory conditions may experience difficulty breathing due to the decreased oxygen levels and dry cabin air on an airplane flying at high altitudes.
- Dehydration. Low humidity in the airplane cabin can lead to dehydration.
- Fatigue. Long flights and changes in time zones can cause fatigue for anyone, but it might become especially pronounced in seniors who may already have low energy levels due to their medical condition.
- Mobility. One of the biggest issues for many seniors is decreased mobility that can lead to difficulties in getting through the airport, going through security and finding comfortable seating on the airplane.
- Medication management: During a hectic day of air travel, it’s easier for seniors to forget to take certain medications when needed.
- Emotional stress: Seniors may experience more stress and even anxiety when traveling, especially if they have concerns about a medical issue or travel alone.
How Flight Nurses Support Seniors With Chronic Conditions
Flight nurses and NEMT companies support seniors every step of the way during their air travel. It starts with RN flight coordinators who plan every aspect of a trip, booking all the arrangements. They focus on finding non-stop flights and creating schedules that best suit seniors, including those with chronic health conditions.
The flight nurse will call ahead, making any special arrangements needed, such as wheelchair assistance or early boarding to get the best possible seat on the plane. They may also confer with the client’s primary care physician, getting any information that might prove important during the flight.
Flight nurses also manage all medications and medical equipment a senior requires. These can range from mobility aids to oxygen tanks.
During the commercial flight, the nurse stays with the client throughout the journey. With training in providing medical care at high altitudes, flight nurses are ready to respond to medical emergencies. They also monitor vital signs and ensure that seniors take their medication as required.
Just as importantly, a flight nurse offers peace of mind and emotional support for seniors, alleviating stress and anxiety by providing reassurance that the seniors have quality care during their journey.
Maximizing air travel assistance for seniors with chronic health conditions involves planning ahead, communicating with the airline and flight crews, managing medical supplies and offering experience on in-flight healthcare. It provides seniors a safer, smoother and more comfortable travel experience.