Ask the Experts:

Roaming retirees

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To the experts: My​ ​grandparents​ ​have​ ​worked​ ​all​ ​of​ ​their​ ​lives​ ​to​ ​save​ ​money,​ ​and​ ​now​ ​they’re​ ​enjoying their​ ​golden​ ​years.​ ​I​ ​think​ ​that’s​ ​great — I’m​ ​obviously​ ​in​ ​a​ ​very​ ​different​ ​phase​ ​of​ ​my​ ​life, but​ ​I​ ​can​ ​totally​ ​understand​ ​that​ ​they​ ​deserve​ ​to​ ​do​ ​whatever​ ​they​ ​want​ ​in​ ​their​ ​old​ ​age.

But​ ​I​ ​can’t​ ​help​ ​but​ ​worry​ ​about​ ​their​ ​passion​ ​for​ ​traveling.​ ​They​ ​end​ ​up​ ​all​ ​over​ ​the world.​ ​I​ ​worry​ ​they’ll​ ​fall​ ​ill​ ​while​ ​in​ ​Asia​ ​or​ ​get​ ​hurt​ ​while​ ​in​ ​Africa​ ​or​ ​Europe.​ ​I​ ​worry they’ll​ ​be​ ​pick pocketed​ ​or​ ​mugged​ ​in​ ​cities​ ​here​ ​in​ ​the​ ​U.S.​ ​or​ ​all​ ​around​ ​the​ ​world.​ ​I​ ​worry they’re​ ​not​ ​cut​ ​out​ ​for​ ​hotels​ ​and​ ​resorts — my​ ​grandmother​ ​slipped​ ​and​ ​fell​ ​in​ ​her​ ​own bathroom​ ​the​ ​other​ ​day,​ ​so​ ​I​ ​don’t​ ​see​ ​how​ ​she​ ​can​ ​be​ ​safe​ ​in​ ​strange​ ​hotel​ ​rooms​ ​with slick​ ​tile​ ​floors.​ ​But​ ​I​ ​don’t​ ​know​ ​how​ ​to​ ​or​ ​even​ ​if​ ​I​ ​should​ ​bring​ ​this​ ​up.​ ​What​ ​do​ ​the experts​ ​say?

From the experts: It’s wonderful that your grandparents have been able to save so much money for their golden years. Many Americans have trouble doing so — in fact,  studies show that the median amount saved is just $5,000 per household. For those who do properly save, though, the retirement years can be full of excitement and joy.

Of course, you’re right that older folks can’t keep traveling forever. Older people fall ill more easily and get injured more easily (21.8% of noninstitutionalized seniors are in “fair” or “poor” health). They can be victims of crimes and can struggle when lost or confused abroad. The experts behind American Standard walk-in tubs say that older people who are in danger of slip-and-falls should maintain safe spaces with fixtures and installations that help reduce risks, like stairlifts, handrails and the aforementioned walk-in tubs. With that said, though, there are hotels that offer features like these, and that can make travel less risky.

And while it’s true that some countries present more health dangers than others, many popular tourist destinations have healthy environments and quality healthcare. Travel insurance policies and Medigap plans can give your grandparents the health coverage they need while they’re out of the country. In fact, experts in travel visas say that some countries now require prospective visitors to show proof of travel health insurance before they can be approved for a visa!

It’s very possible that your grandparents are already aware of the importance of health coverage abroad, and have already taken care of this. None of this means that you can’t raise your concerns in a gentle and polite way. But it would serve you well to assume that your grandparents know what they’re doing and are making their own safety and health a priority. If you phrase your concerns well and express that your worries come from a place of love, not of condescension, you may learn some reassuring things about their planning and travel habits.

“To travel is to live.” — Hans Christian Andersen