Making Travel Easy and Fun for Seniors

Leisure travel, be it a weekend getaway, a pilgrimage, a visit to friends or family, or a holiday to new places, is a great way to relax.  Travel can be fun, exciting and rejuvenating. What’s more it really helps broaden our horizons and expand our knowledge as we discover new places in Sri Lanka and abroad.  Irosha Wijetunga of Travel Concepts, has a few tips for the readers of The Senior Station which can help make travelling far more easy and enjoyable for elders.

The first thing Irosha recommends is to evaluate your choice of destination. It is important to consider what you want out of your holiday – relaxation, adventure, discovery, or a spiritual retreat. You must consider your budget and physical capacity as well.  For example, discovering new places does necessarily have to entail travelling to far flung places. You will find lots of new places to visit in and around Sri Lanka that can be relatively easy on the wallet and not so difficult to get.

  • Avoid peak travel seasons like school holidays when booking your vacation. Tickets and accommodation become more expensive during that time and places tend to be far more crowded
  • Plan to spend a few days at each place if you are travelling to more than one location so that you have time to relax and really enjoy each destination
  • Cruising is a beautiful way of travelling for seniors where one can experience the world at an easy pace. It’s a trip full of entertainment, as well as an opportunity to make new friends. Tour groups are also recommended especially for those travelling alone.

Some things to remember when travelling overseas: 

  • Always take a few extra copies of your travel documents with you along with a clearly marked sheet that has the details of a friend or relative to be contacted in unexpected emergencies
  • Also carry a set of instructions, checklists or reminders written in bold lettering. This will help you avoid mishaps like losing documents and ensure smooth travel
  • It helps to book an aisle seat onboard a plane or train in order to move freely if necessary. Sitting in one place for long periods may cause blood clots, and so flexing your calves and feet, and moving about occasionally would be advisable
  • At airports elders travelling with pace makers should not go through metal detectors. Instead they should inform the security personnel so that they can be screened separately.
  • Notify security personnel about patients who have diabetes and are carrying supplies such as vials, syringes, jet injectors, epiPens, infusers or insulin pumps. Insulin in any form or dispenser must be clearly identified.
  • Never place important medication in checked baggage as they can get lost or delayed. However remember that any liquid carried in hand luggage which is over 50 ml will need to be screened separately. Placing medication in separate clear plastic bags with the details clearly tagged is an idea to consider
  • It is also a good idea to include a list of allergies, medication and dosages, just in case a doctor’s visit is needed during your trip.
  • Should you require any oxygen, etc. onboard please ensure a formal medical form is signed by your physician and given to the airline at least 48 hours prior to your departure or you may be refused boarding
  • Personal wheelchairs, walking sticks and other mobility aids need to be clearly marked. Certain walking sticks may not be allowed onboard so ensure that this is verified with the airline office or at the check-in counter prior to arrival at the gate
  • Wheel chair facilities are not meant for the disabled only. Walking in airports can be long and tiring, and all elders are entitled to this facility. The airline must be contacted prior to travel to avail of the facility which includes other airport assistance like carrying your baggage off the belt and taking it to the point of exit. Passengers maybe charged an extra fee for such assistance though

Checking in to a Hotel 

  • When booking rooms in a hotel, you may want to request for rooms in the ground floor level wherever possible. It makes movement so much easier. Of course one would need to make these requests in advance to avoid disappointment
  • Upon check-in always get a card from the hotel with their address just in case you lose your bearings when returning after a tour
  • Ensure that you store your valuables in the locker provided
  • Also always get familiar with the fire exits as you check-in

Travel Insurance 

  • Insurance is highly recommended for travel and health, and most insurance companies provide policies for passengers up to the age of 70 without much effort. For those above the age of 70 however, the options are limited.
  • Paying for your air ticket by credit card is one way of obtaining a free insurance policy. It is however important to check with the issuing bank if there is an age limit applicable and what exactly is covered when obtaining these policies
  • It is also vital for the policy to be valid for minimum of one month beyond the scheduled return date. This will help if in case your return date is extended due to unavoidable circumstances

On a closing note don’t let planning a holiday seem like a complicated task. Putting everything together can also be a lot of fun. And once these systems and checks are put in to place they are easy to follow through on each subsequent trip. So just decide on where you want to go and never look back!

For more information on travel and bookings of flights and hotels please contact Travel Concepts directly on the numbers below.


TEL : + 94 11 2793700 / 2793800
FAX : + 94 11 2792137

MOB : +94 772 637997



Dancing Her Way to Fitness!!

Jayawanthi Pannibaratha’s passion for Classical Sri Lankan dance forms blossomed under the guidance of her father, the renowned dancer, Dr. S. Pannibaratha. Over the years, Jayawanthi herself has come to be known as a dancer of repute, and has done much promote public appreciation of Sri Lankan dance. One such endeavor is a dance class for adults conducted at Kithu Sevana, on Bullers Road.

When Jayawanthi began the classes in 2014, the response was very encouraging, and she was inundated with requests to move the classes to the evenings to allow those were working to also attend. While her classes are not strictly for senior citizens, the routines are carried out at a pace that appeals to all age groups.

Dance is proven to be a fabulous way to keep fit. It improves muscle tone, flexibility, gait and balance. Keeping in time with the rhythm of the music is also great for maintaining and improving cognitive skills. What’s more, dancing is fun! It relaxes you and soothes the soul. So it is no wonder then that Jayawanthi’s students derive so much joy as they dance their way to good health.

One of Jayawanthi’s very first students is Shanthini who says she enjoys every bit of it. Deepani who is an accountant by profession makes sure she has no appointments lined up on Wednesday evenings so that she can make it to the class. This is her way of relieving stress. She has been attending the class since its inception, and loves every minute of it. She describes it as a super quality workout. Savithri, another of Jayawanthi’s students has only three words to describe her experience at the class -“I love it!”

The classes are conducted on Wednesday and Friday evenings between 5 and 6 p.m. On Wednesday evenings, Jayawanthi teaches her students Kandyan dancing which is accompanied by drums. On Fridays however, she introduces her students to different traditional dance forms, which include Oriental dances and Manipuri (which originates in India’s North Eastern highlands).

On an average Jayawanthi has about 30 students attending her class for which she charges a very nominal fee to cover her costs such as the rental of the hall. Jayawanthi’s motivation to run the class stems solely from her love for dance, the joy it gives her students, and the close friendships she has established with many of them. She says that over the years the ladies have come to really bond with each other. On the day The Senior Station covered the class, one of the students brought with her some treats to celebrate her birthday with Jayawanthi and the other students. It is this bonhomie that makes the class so special says Jayawanthi. Between her responsibilities to her husband, two children and the many other commitments she has undertaken, Jayawanthi manages a very busy schedule. Yet it is the encouragement of her students that prompts her to continue the dance class at Kithu Sevana.


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How about a game of bridge?

There is increasing research to prove that keeping one’s brain active and stimulated can keep it healthy and young and stave off mental decline and conditions such as Dementia. Healthcare providers now believe that social interaction together with challenging mental activities is very important for mental health in old age. So it is no wonder then that a game of Bridge, which provides the ideal combination of the two, is seen as a hugely beneficial activity for senior citizens. This complex card game is said to activate that part of the brain involved in memory, sequencing and visualizing. Moreover bridge is played in a foursome and this provides plenty of social interaction, especially since a single session typically lasts several hours.

In the years gone by, Bridge was a very popular table sport in Sri Lanka, and was widely played across the country. During those days, bridge clubs were commonly formed amongst friends, as well as by associations for various professionals such as lawyers, doctors etc. Today unfortunately it is kept alive by small groups of enthusiasts. One such enterprising individual is Rex Perera, the founder of The Vajira Bridge Centre, a club where one can both learn and play the game.

Rex Perera was a Civil and Structural Engineer who settled into quiet retirement in 2003. He had been always passionate about bridge and continued to play the game with friends and family after retirement. A close friend and fellow bridge aficionado was Wasantha Senanayake who was keen to revive the game especially within the armed forces. He encouraged Rex to formulate tutorials for the Kotelawala Defense Academy so that officers from the Army, Navy and Air Force could take up the game.  Rex embarked on the project, however unfortunately due to unavoidable reasons it fell through. Soon after though, word spread about Rex’ endeavors and he was approached by his niece and her friend to teach them the game. One thing led to the other and Rex’ bridge coaching efforts culminated with the launch of the Vajira Bridge Centre.

The Vajira Bridge Centre is affiliated to Bridge Federation of Sri Lanka. The main aim of the Centre is to provide a space for both beginners and serious players to play. Every Tuesday amateurs tournaments are held at the club, and on Sundays the professionals have their tournaments. On other week days Rex teaches beginners how to play the game. “It’s a myth that bridge is difficult,” says Rex encouragingly. “Bridge is actually very simple to learn. It takes a lot of practice to master though. Every game poses new challenges, which is why players get so absorbed in the game. This is a game that appeals to players across ages and my club has members who are young adults as well retired professionals.  These days with computers and the internet, people look to gadgets to provide them with easy entertainment. Perhaps this is why games like bridge, which were very popular in Sri Lanka, are losing ground. However, there are a great many benefits to the game and, if you ask any bridge player they will tell you that it can also be a whole lot of fun. Once you start playing bridge it is very easy to get hooked on it. In fact I have been contacted by Sri Lankan expats, as well as people from other countries, who want to play bridge even whilst they are on holiday here. The local members are also very committed players. I would however like to see many more Sri Lankans taking up this amazing game. We will be happy to help interested players to learn the various aspects of the game and will find partners for them as well.”

The Vajira Bridge Centre is located at No 141 Vajira Road Colombo 5, and the centre’s website is

Mr. Rex Perera’s mobile number is 0777514189 and his email address is

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I am having a Senior Moment…Naah

think cloud

Brains of older people are slow because they know so much. People do not decline mentally with age, it just takes them longer to recall facts because they have more information in their brains, scientists believe. Much like a computer struggles as the hard drives gets full, so do humans take longer to access information when their brains are full.

Researchers say this slowing down process is not the same as cognitive decline. The human brain works slower in old age, said Dr. Michael Ramscar, but only because we have stored more information over time. The brains of older people do not get weak. On the contrary, they simply know more.

Also, older people often go to another room to get something and when they get there, they stand there wondering what they came for. It is NOT a memory problem, it is nature’s way of making older people do more exercise.


Now when I reach for a word or a name, I won’t excuse myself by saying “I’m having a senior moment”. Now, I’ll say, “My disk is full!”

I have more friends I should send this to, but right now I can’t remember their names. So, please forward this to your friends; they may be my friends, too.

-Source Unknown

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Friday morning fun and games

If you are 50 and above, and have some extra time on your hands, then wonder over to St. Paul’s Milagiriya to spend a fun-filled Friday morning. A group of enthusiastic seniors gather in the auditorium, within the St. Paul’s Milagiriya Church grounds, for some interesting conversation and to play a range of games including scrabble, bridge, carom, and 304.

These weekly gatherings are organized by the Sri Lanka Association of Senior Citizens and membership is open to anyone who is above 50. There is a nominal fee of Rs. 1000 per year, which allows members to visit each Friday between 9 and 12 a.m.; partake in the games; and enjoy a cup of tea and some biscuits. The club also organizes tournaments which the members wholeheartedly participate in. There are celebrations organized for Christmas and Avurudu, as well as trips and outings which are held twice a year. Githagani Fernando, who is the President of the Association said, “We have over a hundred members. They really look forward to these Friday morning sessions because it gives them an opportunity to get away from their daily routine. They get to make new friends and the games they play are fun as well as intellectually stimulating. We welcome all seniors to join us. If you are interested, then you can pay a day fee of Rs. 25 and spend a Friday morning with us before you decide to join.” Ms. Fernando is supported by a dedicated committee of seven members who take care of all the administrative aspects of the group.


Ms. Geethangani Fernando, President of the Sri Lanka Association of Senior Citizens


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