Some people dread the idea of aging. Others relish the experience and wisdom that come with getting older. Either way, it’s an inevitable fact that we’re all getting older. Sometimes, living on the road reminds us of this fact.
Aging has many benefits, such as caring less about what others think and having more emotional intelligence. Older adults also excel at jobs that can be cognitively taxing for younger folks. However, advancing age does take its toll, particularly on our hearing, vision, and physical endurance. These losses are expected and just a fact of life.
The more we can anticipate common age-related changes, the better we can reduce our risk of injury and get the most out of life on the road. When we become more aware of these inevitable—but gradual—changes, the easier it is to find innovative ways to make up for them.
Reduced Physical Endurance
Muscle strength and physical endurance decline with age, but that doesn’t mean an end to hiking challenging trails or getting on top of the RV to fix a leaky roof. Instead, the key is to be more efficient and find safer ways of doing things when your muscles are involved. For example, you can make adjustments to your rig or outdoor area to make bending, stooping, climbing, or other movements less strenuous.
Camping with limited mobility, hip problems, bad knees, or other physical challenges can be concerning for people of any age, but more so as we age. Fortunately, there are plenty of workarounds that can help you enjoy your nomadic life, despite your physical issue.
If ramps or bathrooms with large stalls or handrails make camping easier for you, take the time to research campgrounds that offer these and other accessibility features. It also pays to call ahead to ensure a campsite has what they advertise. Another strategy is to find sites that put you close to the things you want to see, such as a mountain lake or a beautiful sunset. If you enjoy hiking, try to find a spot close to a trailhead.
Regardless of your physical abilities, it’s always a good idea to know your limits so that you can plan your trips accordingly. Some days might be harder than others. If you need a rest day, take it. If you’re not up to hike that you originally planned, do something else that is lower impact.
Longer Recovery from Injuries
The older we get, the more time we need to heal from sprains or falls. Being more aware of your physical surroundings can go a long way to avoiding accidents. In areas with limited visibility, use lighting to find your way around so that you don’t trip over unseen obstacles. Take advantage of handrails when using stairs or steps to avoid nasty falls.
Reduced Short-Term Memory
With age, we might forget things more often, and our memories might not be as sharp as they used to be. Usually, this is little cause for concern—unless you forget a crucial step in hitching your trailer. A simple lapse like that can be costly and dangerous. A simple way to keep disasters to a minimum is to create checklists and keep them handy for quick reference. Although your memory might still be sharp, removing the worry is worth it.
Risk of Chronic Conditions
The older we get, the greater our risk for chronic health issues like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and high blood pressure. Most of us know that eating healthy can preserve lifelong health. Also, take opportunities to get in as much physical activity as possible. Handling the day-to-day of nomadic life—setting up camp, emptying water tanks, leveling an RV—often provides plenty of exercise.
Medical intervention is necessary when diet and exercise aren’t enough. Living and working on the road doesn’t mean you have to go without proper healthcare, especially when managing a chronic condition. Old and young nomads alike can do several things to meet their medical needs:
- Use a centralized provider that has all your medical records.
- Plan trips around doctor visits and regular screenings.
- Get your prescriptions filled at national pharmacy chains like CVS or Walgreens.
- Order your prescriptions in 90-day supplies to take some of the hassle out of refilling them.
- Look into local free clinics or medical facilities that charge on a sliding scale.
- Whenever you get to a new camp or boondocking area, locate the nearest hospital or clinic in case you have an emergency later on.
- Take time to familiarize yourself with your health plan thoroughly, whether it’s private insurance, Medicare, or another program.
Age should never be an issue when living your best life on the road. The only exception is a medical or physical constraint that makes traveling too difficult or dangerous. Otherwise, the nomadic life is a great adventure for young and old alike. Being mindful of the natural transitions we go through with aging can help us maintain optimal health, reduce hazards, and enjoy the freedom we’ve always dreamed of.
Juliann Scholl is a freelance writer and part-time nomad who craves new sites, people, or wherever her Honda Element takes her. A grown-up farm kid, Juliann loves living, working, and playing outdoors.