About the Author: Michelle Bernier-Toth serves as the Director of American Citizens Services in the Bureau of Consular Affairs.
May is Older Americans Month. The Bureau of Consular Affairs at the U.S. Department of State invites you to join us, and other communities nationwide, in celebrating this month by registering for the Age Strong! Live Long! Walk hosted by the Administration on Aging on May 27 in Washington, DC.
The walk's opening ceremony will be in the Hubert H. Humphrey Building at 200 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC. Please stop by our booth in the Humphrey Building before or after the walk to say hello or ask a question, pick up U.S. passport applications, and help yourself to copies of our information about traveling or retiring abroad for older Americans.
This year's Older Americans Month theme -- "Age Strong! Live Long!" -- recognizes the diversity and vitality of today's older Americans. Older Americans are living longer and are more active than ever before. From our vantage point at the Department of State, we see that the number of older Americans who travel, work, and retire abroad reflects the active nature of America's senior population.
As we celebrate Older Americans Month, we continue to encourage folks to be prepared before going on trips or retiring overseas. Here are a few tips for you, or for someone you love, who may be planning a trip or retiring abroad:
- Take note of the closest U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate in the country of destination and register your trip online. This contact information is stored securely and would enable us to contact you, or pass a message to your family on your behalf, in the event of an emergency.
- Reach out to U.S. citizen civic, business, or political groups abroad if you are considering retiring overseas. Ask questions about daily life challenges and opportunities that may not be apparent during a brief vacation. U.S. Embassy websites often provide lists of such organizations.
- Americans who travel in retirement are often concerned about health issues. Keep all prescription medications in their original, labeled containers to avoid delays at Customs checkpoints in other countries. Carry a note from your doctor (translated if necessary) that explains what the medication is for and includes the generic or chemical name of your medication (which doctors overseas may recognize more easily).
- Check with your health insurance provider to see if you are covered abroad. Many U.S. medical insurance plans do not cover health care outside the United States. Medical costs overseas can be expensive, and medical evacuations can cost upwards of $100,000. Many companies offer short-term health and emergency assistance policies to cover health care costs abroad, including medical evacuations.
To view our complete travel guidance for older Americans, see our information sheet online. We encourage you to make informed decisions about your travel and/or retirement abroad.
As the baby boomer generation ages, the Administration on Aging predicts that by 2030 America's senior population will number 71.5 million. The Bureau of Consular Affairs wishes this large segment of the population, as well as all those who love and support them, a happy Older Americans Month, and happy trails in your travels.