Medical travel companions fly with travelers who need assistance to complete their journey. They make the trip from Point A to Point B easier for those with injuries, disabilities and older travelers who want support when flying to national or international destinations.
Adult children also often hire medical travel companions to fly with their senior parents who might have some physical limitations or who may simply get confused or uneasy with the hustle and bustle of the airport and airplane.
While many types of medical travel companion services are available, making the journey with a flight nurse provides travelers with a trained medical professional who is highly skilled in providing medical care on commercial flights and for those who need a long distance ambulance.
People with medical conditions cannot always make flights on their own. Having a flight nurse or medical travel companion gives those who need support during air travel a number of benefits.
In the case of flight nurses, each one is experienced with working in emergency situations, making them able to handle whatever situation might arise. They also have earned certification for providing medical services at high altitudes.
Many flight nurse companies can also make trip arrangements. This includes ground transport to and from the airport, assistance through the terminal (including security) and ensuring all needed medical equipment and medications travel with you.
Overall, the biggest benefit of a medical travel companion is the peace of mind of knowing you have professional, caring assistance for your journey.
Medical travel companies can provide vital support in a number of situations.
As people age, running the gauntlet of lines, security checks, ticket kiosks, and crowds of people hustling quickly through the terminal and at the gate can become overwhelming. A flight nurse can make the process much less complicated, providing a steady companion who guides you through every step along the way in the airport. They also take away any concerns about the handling of medical equipment and prescription medications (including remembering to take them when required).
Traveling with a broken arm or leg, especially if a wheelchair is required, makes air travel difficult even for the youngest and healthiest of travelers. A medical travel companion can navigate the journey for you while also ensuring that your injury receives proper attention.
Those with disabilities typically become experts at getting through whatever life throws at them, but travel can provide a particularly strong challenge. A flight nurse can provide assistance when needed and also contact airport officials ahead of time to work out any special arrangements involving equipment or security.
For those who become ill or get injured while on vacation, a flight nurse can make the journey home much easier, including handling communication with medical personnel, even those in other countries. Clients can engage the services of a medical travel companion for domestic and international flights. Whatever your reasons for wanting a flight nurse with you, they can make your journey much less stressful and ensure you arrive at your destination safely while attending all your medical needs.
People with chronic conditions can, in many cases, still use air travel to reach their destinations. Doing so requires planning and consultation with clinicians. It’s also helpful to travel with medical professionals who can provide continuity of care during air travel.
Flight nurses who work for non-emergency medical transport (NEMT) companies can provide this service, traveling with patients from their home to their final destination. The best NEMT companies also employ RN flight coordinators to book all the tickets for the flight as well as work with airlines and airports in advance to help smooth the way for clients with chronic conditions.
As noted by Johns Hopkins Medicine, “Chronic conditions should not keep people from enjoying travel.” They advise that as with other medical conditions, people with chronic diseases should always “see their healthcare provider as early as possible before traveling.”
Johns Hopkins also notes that those with chronic conditions should “travel with a companion familiar with their condition.”
What Is Continuity of Care During Air Travel?
The term continuity of care refers to the healthcare strategy of coordination and delivering services to a patient over a period of time and at different locations. The idea is to provide patients with consistent, uninterrupted care that allows them to seamlessly move between healthcare providers and settings.
Continuity of care is especially important for patients with chronic conditions or complex medical needs. In those cases, patients often require care from a variety of providers.
In the context of air travel, continuity of care refers to delivery of healthcare services during a journey using commercial airlines. Flight nurses accompany patients throughout the trip, overseeing medications and providing any needed medical treatment. They also assist those with chronic conditions as they navigate the airport, as well as boarding and deplaning.
Examples of Common Chronic Conditions
What are some of the chronic conditions that people travel with the most? They include hypertension, arthritis, allergies, traumatic brain injury, stroke (depending on the type and severity), mild asthma, and chronic digestive issues such as acid reflux. Those with injuries that limit mobility can also often fly, including those with a broken leg.
Some of those with certain conditions may be advised against air travel, according to Johns Hopkins. They include people with cardiac failure, a recent myocardial infarction (heart attack) or stroke, angina (chest pain) at rest, heart rate or rhythm disorders, uncontrolled arterial hypertension, severe anemia, sickle-cell anemia, acute mental disorders, epilepsy, and any serious or contagious diseases. Even in these cases, the decision to fly or not depends on an individual’s medical condition.
What NEMT Flight Nurses Do
NEMT flight nurses work with RN flight coordinators, going through the details of a client’s flight and reviewing the care they will require. They also review airport procedures and contact airline and airport officials about any special requirements a client might need, such as a special security line or boarding a plane early.
Nurses also review a client’s condition and ensure all the necessary medical equipment and medications are packed for the trip. They also have a medical kit of their own to prepare for any needs the client might experience during air travel or at the airport.
Flight nurses are trained in flight physiology, as well as psychological distress patients may experience during a flight. They also track the times for giving clients their medication and make routine health checks. In this way, they ensure continuity of care during air travel for their clients, including those with chronic conditions.
Flight nurses provide important care for those with chronic conditions who do not want to fly alone. An NEMT flight nurse provides the peace of mind in knowing clients by providing continuity of care during air travel.
People like to travel because it’s enjoyable and relaxing, but unfortunately that’s not always the case for everyone. Older travelers might especially feel anxious if things don’t go as planned, which is why finding ways to reduce travel stress for the elderly is so important.
These senior stress reduction tips are designed for traveling seniors or their loved ones who plan to travel with them or help with travel arrangements. Keep in mind that in addition to these tips, it’s also possible to get air travel assistance for seniors through non-emergency medical transport companies such as Flying Angels. Age, illness or disability should not become a barrier that prevents people from enjoying travel.
For those looking to improve air travel for seniors, it’s helpful to break down each trip into three main sections. As you start to consider all the details of reducing travel stress for elderly travelers, these provide some guidance.
Before the Trip
Most of the work that result in reduced stress on a trip happens before you ever leave the house.
Consider delaying a trip if the travelers recently experienced an emotionally or physically taxing event, such as a death, divorce or major medical procedure. Those type of events can cause stress for travelers.
If the seniors involved have chronic medical conditions, ensure they consult with their physician before their trip and get medical clearance to travel.
Set up transportation to the airport from home and from the airport to the final destination (usually a hotel) before leaving home.
Call ahead to both airports and arrange any assistance you need getting from check in, through security and to the gate.
Use Google maps to become familiar with your destination. Knowing your way around will reduce stress once you arrive.
Book non-stop flights even if it costs a bit more. Changing planes and making your way through a third airport is a surefire way to increase travel stress
Keep these tips in mind to help improve air travel for seniors.
Pack the night before and have everything ready so you can leave and get to the airport early (a rule of thumb is to arrive about two hours before your plane departs). It’s much easier to wait comfortably at the gate than rush through a crowd.
If seniors are traveling without companions, start a routine from the first day where they check in with family members via text or phone call.
Bring something to read. An underrated way to cut out the noise and confusion around you – and avoid talking to strangers if you don’t want to – is to bring a good book or magazine, whatever you prefer to read. Time will fly by faster and reading helps people relax.
Pack all medications and important items in a carry-on bag. Don’t put them in checked baggage and run the risk of the airlines sending them somewhere else (a rare occurrence, but it happens).
Get a seat on the plane that allows for easy access to the bathroom. Board early if necessary.
Talk time to stretch your legs and walk a bit before boarding. Physical activity can help people feel more relaxed.
The destination is the reason people travel. However, a new city or unfamiliar country can cause stress, especially for seniors accustomed to their home routine. Once they are at their destination, these tips can help.
Start a vacation routine. Make time to simply sit and enjoy the day, read, or take a walk. Find a good place to have breakfast each day that is comfortable and relaxed.
Make a set time each day to contact loved ones and talk to them, letting them know how you are doing and what you’ve experienced.
Wear comfortable clothes and don’t overdo it. Dress to be active but plan each day with only enough “things to do” that you can easily accomplish. Vacation is not a time to “push yourself.”
Once back at home, it’s also important to not schedule too many activities for the first few days. Allow yourself some time to rest up after your trip is over.
It’s possible to reduce travel stress for the elderly if you take it seriously and plan ahead. These tips give you a good place to start and a better chance of having a relaxing, enjoyable travel experience.