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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Independence vs. Safety for Seniors: A Diabetic Senior with COPD Travels Alone in an RV

Dilemma: A diabetic senior friend of mine is independent, self-reliant, and travels alone in an RV. He faces the dilemma of awakening in the morning with blood sugar too low to function without weakness and confusion. In the late evening he takes his blood sugar. Then he eats something to raise the blood sugar enough so he will wake in the morning without the low blood sugar issue.

This is clearly less than an ideal situation. He also has COPD and uses oxygen at night or when needed. Unable to walk far due to back pain from an injury, he uses a scooter when he needs to go more than 20 feet. Professional drivers move the RV when he wishes to go to a new location, often moving up to 1000 miles away at a time.

Independent, self-reliant, stoic, a positive thinker, and travel oriented have been characteristics of his life. These values give his life meaning. The idea of settling down somewhere fills him with horror. He's led a life of leadership and distinguished service to the country and to those in need.

Everyone who knows him feels anxiety over his continuing lifestyle in view of the health challenges.

We've all known and loved friends or family members with similar situations. Admired by others, these independent stoics soldier on with health challenges that might turn the rest of us into stay-at-home types. Their lifestyle is important for them to have a good quality of life.

We watch, holding our breath, hoping not to get a call someday that there has been a disaster.

Dilemma: It's quality of life vs. safety. If someone could step in and get these people to live a safer life, the problem is life might not be worth living, to them.

Caught between a rock and a hard place.

1 comment:

Letitia Hughes said...

A very thought-provoking blog about travelling alone with both COPD and diabetes. It seems to be especially relevant as tomorrow is World COPD Awareness day, an annual event organized by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) to improve awareness and care of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) around the world. The theme of this year is Breathless not Helpless!

I can see why this slogan has been chosen. It is important for people’s health and wellbeing to be able to continue to do things that they enjoy, but in a way tailored to their specific needs. For example, like in this blog, still being able to travel on holidays, even though you have specific medical conditions. After all, for me, the key word for the 18th November is ‘world’ – how better to commemorate the day than travelling? I understand the dilemma but having COPD should not limit people from enjoying their holidays as long as there is adequate preparation beforehand, with advice taken from your relevant medical professional, depending on the method of travel and destination etc. In addition, your travel insurance may be invalid if you don’t declare that you have COPD so it is important to ensure that you have specialist travel insurance to cover your pre-existing medical condition, take a look at AllClear for more info. More hints and tips on travelling with COPD, that might be useful, can be found here