Medical tourism around the world, especially medical tourism for senior citizens. is a booming trend. In fact, it’s now rather common among geriatric patients. As patients get older, more and more health issues tend to arise. Taking care of these issues at home is often expensive. Patients may have to schedule appointments with specialists long in advance. In the meanwhile, their conditions may deteriorate. Sometimes, issues are urgent and simply can’t wait. Obviously, that puts patients in an uncomfortable situation. On the face of it, therefore, medical tourism seems like a good option for the elderly. The availability of procedures, up-and-coming medical centers throughout the world and, particularly, the lower price tag combine to make it an attractive option.
Unfortunately, there are also many risks and potential problems in undergoing medical procedures abroad. First and foremost, you’re far from home. That itself opens a Pandora’s box.
What Are the Risks of Medical Tourism for Senior Citizens?
Seniors can choose from a wide range of medical procedures abroad. Specialised health care and surgery are the most common.
Despite the seemingly attractive price tag, there are many disadvantages to flying abroad to take care of your medical problems. Take, for example, regulations in force (or not in force) in other countries. Many countries that regard medical tourism for senior citizens as a major source of foreign currency lack the types of legislation, regulations and enforcement that you take for granted back home. As a result, there may be a black market for medical supplies, or even organs. It may also mean that the procedures themselves you undergo are not monitored by professional associations or regulatory agencies. In such cases, you can never be sure if you really will receive quality care.
Another issue with geriatric procedures is that the elderly are vulnerable to charlatans. They may become the target of criminals and scammers while traveling abroad. Especially when they are recovering from medical procedures and may not be familiar with the local language, laws or customs.
Travel can also be difficult for elderly patients. Long plane flights can cause other health issues. It may also be difficult, or medically prohibitive, to travel home while you are recovering.
Buying Medications Abroad
Another problem with medical tourism for senior citizens is buying prescription medications outside of the country. In certain countries, medications may be substantially cheaper, or even accessible without a prescription.
Be very careful, then, when considering such an option! If the country you travel to lacks the appropriate legislation, medications do not have to pass any testing process before they go on the market. Or they could even be counterfeit. The money you save by going abroad, in this case, will clearly not be worth it.
Do Senior Citizens Actually Get Hurt by Medical Tourism?
The answer is yes! There are countless reports of elderly patients who travelled abroad for medical treatment who returned in worse off than before. The complications they suffer can be dangerous and often require additional treatments.
In the worst-case scenario, people have actually died as a result of medical tourism.
In 2007, an Australian woman in her fifties traveled to Bangkok for a tummy tuck and breast lift. Upon her discharge, she developed an infection a few days after the surgery. She returned to the clinic for a follow-up (at her own cost) and then flew home ill. It turned out that it was a potentially fatal infection. She required additional treatment after she arrived back in Australia. The private clinic where she underwent the original procedure was most likely non-regulated. As a result, its hygienic standards were insufficient. Always make sure, therefore, to go to an accredited institution.
Is Medical Tourism for Senior Citizens Worth It?
While travelling abroad may seem like an attractive option in addressing medical problems, there are many complications that can arise. These can threaten your life and also empty your pockets.
Before you make any decisions, make sure to do detailed research about your destination and clinic. Additionally, be prepared to spend more money than you anticipate.