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An elderly personal alarm with automatic fall detection can detect a fall and call for help without you needing to push the button. This is vital is you are unconscious or immobile following a sudden illness or a fall. The call will automatically go through to either your nominated contacts or a SureSafe operator, depending on which service you have chosen. You will be able to get the help you need fast, even if you are unable to press the button.

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Facilitating Flying: Air Travel Assistance for the Elderly

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms

Air travel can get you to wonderful places – but it’s not known for being a particularly enjoyable experience. Long queues, delays and confusing airport layouts can make the experience tough for anyone.

It’s not surprising, then, that flying can be even more challenging for the elderly. As older people are more susceptible to long-term medical conditions, they’re also more likely to find the experience difficult.

However, there are steps that seniors and their loved ones can take to make the process a bit easier. On this blog, we often say that it’s important to take advantage of all the help that’s available. The same definitely applies to air travel!

So, if you’re an elderly person or flying with one, read on to learn all about assistance at airports and on planes. You’ll see that there’s lots of help available to make your journey as smooth as possible.

Know your rights

There are many reasons an older person might need assistance at airports or on a flight. They might use a wheelchair or find it difficult to walk long distances between terminals due to conditions like arthritis. Or they may have low vision, dementia or many other medical conditions.

The good news is that if an older person has a disability or reduced mobility due to age, they are entitled by law to support from both airports and airlines. That’s true in the UK and throughout the EU. While your rights in different countries may vary, you’ll always have the right to this help while departing from the UK.

Support of this kind is referred to as “Special Assistance.” Of course, it can come in different forms.

What assistance is available for the elderly at airports?

As stated in the UK government guidance on travel by plane, travellers with disabilities or reduced mobility have the right to specific kinds of assistance throughout their journey through airports.

They have the right to help when they arrive at the airport, including when they arrive by car or public transit. They also have the right to assistance with getting to the check-in desk and registering there. After check-in, they have the right to support with getting around the airport and getting onto the plane.

If an older person has an invisible disability, such as dementia, they may be able to get a lanyard or bracelet at the airport that indicates this.

What assistance is available for older people on a flight?

Elderly people who have disabilities that make it difficult for them to get around a plane, such as a physical disability or blindness, have certain rights on a plane too. They have the right to help with moving around the plane. They also have the right to assistance with getting an appropriate seat. Lastly, they have the right to flight information that they can understand, such as safety cards in Braille for a blind person.

Some airlines may offer additional assistance, such as help with stowing bags. It’s best to ask ahead of time to see what’s available.

How to get assistance for the elderly at airports and on planes

So, now you know what help is available to you. But how can you get it?

Requesting support

There’s one major rule to know when it comes to getting special assistance during your air travel. You have to request help at least 48 hours before your flight. Really, the sooner you request assistance, the better.

How do you ask for help? You’ll need to tell your airline (or travel agent or other organisation planning your travel). This might be during the booking process, but more often it will be after booking.

Check with your airline or travel provider to ask how you can request help. For example, on British Airways, you’ll make your flight booking first and sign onto their online portal to attach your support request to the booking.

Once you’ve made your request, your airline or travel provider should let all relevant airports know about the help that you need.

Be aware that requesting the special assistance you’re legally entitled to should not cost you anything.

After you’ve made your request, ensure that you have a written confirmation of it.

At the airport

Airlines and airports emphasise that if you need additional support, you should be sure to arrive at the airport earlier. Check with your airline to see their suggestions. Many airlines ask you to arrive up to three hours before your flight.

Have a look at your airport’s special assistance information before you fly. That will help you find out what to do.

In general, when you arrive at the airport, you should look for assistance or help points. These should be near the places where you enter the airport. They’ll likely have a symbol indicating their purpose and a way for you to contact someone to get help – for example, a phone or button.

Some airports may offer a map of these assistance points for you to look at before you go. For example, here is Heathrow’s map of its help points.

There should be additional assistance points or areas within the terminal as well.

The bottom line here is that it’s best to request support early, arrive early, and research ahead of time to ensure you know what’s available to you and how to get it.

What help isn’t available for elderly people during air travel?

The general rule for travellers by air is that they should be “self-reliant,” in the words of the UK government. That means that they can manage their own personal care such as eating, taking medication and going to the toilet (although passengers with mobility disabilities might need help with transportation through the terminal or through the plane to the toilets).

Elderly people who aren’t self-reliant will need to travel with someone else who can manage this care for them.

Likewise, an older person who can’t help themself during an emergency with tasks such as putting on an oxygen mask or life vest should also travel with another person who can do this.

Fit to travel documentation for unwell seniors

When you submit your request for assistance, your airline might want to check that you are well enough to fly. They might ask you for more details about your needs, or they might ask for a note from a doctor.

For certain medical conditions, or if you have recently had surgery, you might need to also get documentation that you are fit to travel. Check your airline’s website for more information about when you need a doctor’s note. Be aware that you might need to download your airline’s form to use.

How SureSafe keeps older people safe at home and on holiday

Sometimes, people think of personal alarms for the elderly as devices that stay within the home. While it is true that some simpler devices work only within the wearer’s house, there are also far more sophisticated alarms that work by GPS outside the home.

These GPS alarms are great for elderly people who like to be out and about, whether that’s on a daily walk to the shops or a visit to the beach. With this type of alarm, a senior doesn’t have to worry about how they might call for help when they’re outdoors alone. By pressing just one button, they can get assistance right away if an emergency or a call occurs.

At the same time, a GPS alarm is great for seniors who are at risk of wandering due to dementia. There’s no need for their loved ones to worry about tracking them down if they get lost.

And lastly, a personal alarm offers peace of mind for family members, too. If you’re jetting off on a holiday but worried about what your parent might do if you’re not nearby, a personal alarm offers assurance that they won’t be unable to get help if trouble like a fall occurs.

If you’d like to know more about our personal alarm options at SureSafe, don’t hesitate to give us a ring on 0808 189 1671, get in touch by live chat or request a call back.

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