Ozzy Osbourne cancels touring, sparks convos on aging and travel

By Claire Wolters
Published February 8, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Ozzy Osbourne cancels current and future tours because of travel stressors. 

  • Travel, especially when driving, can be difficult for aging adults. 

  • It is important to providers to have honest conversations with their patients about risks and alternative options.

Ozzy Osbourne fans may be disappointed to learn that he canceled the last of his 2023 shows and future shows. The singer and television personality said the cancelations are a result of health conditions, which older fans may relate to themselves.

“My singing voice is fine,” Osbourne said in a tweet on February 1. “...But in all good consciousness, I have now come to the realization that I’m not physically capable of doing my upcoming UK/European tour dates, as I know I couldn’t deal with the travel required.”

According to news sources, Osbourne, 74, sustained a spinal injury in 2019 which required him to undergo multiple medical interventions including three operations, stem cell treatments, Cybernics (HAL) treatment, and physical therapy. He was also diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2020. 

He added that his team is considering new ideas for how he can continue to perform without traveling.

Aging out of travel

“For older people, both physical and mental abilities can pose impairments to them when they are traveling,” says David Cutler, MD, a family medicine doctor at St. John’s Physicians Partners Providence. These present challenges to people are obviously more concerning when they are traveling because they may not be familiar with local medical facilities, says Cutler.

At check ups, physicians can assess if and how much a patient’s physical and cognitive health conditions capabilities have changed over the years. For cognitive conditions specifically, patients over the age of 65 should undergo annual assessments like the MoCA Test.

Cognitive assessments can be especially crucial to ensure travel safety, as cognitive impairments can significantly reduce a person’s ability to operate machinery, remember directions, or orient themselves in a new environment, Cutler says.

"“If a person would be confused in their own home town, They'll certainly get confused in a foreign location.""

David Cutler, MD

People with significant cognitive impairments should also not be permitted to drive, Cutler says. If you are unsure of your patient's status, you can report them to their local department of motor vehicles for a driving assessment.

Pre trip planning

Before traveling, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends older adults checking in with their provider for trip planning–or cancellation–advice.

At this appointment, don’t forget to ask where the patient is going, what type of accommodations they will be staying in, and the range of (if any) engaging in strenuous activities they will be engaging in.

Based on their medical history, you can best advise them on how to enjoy their trip while keeping their health in check, and let them know if there are any activities to skip out on.

Travel risks can vary based on where a person is traveling to, and the type of transportation they are using to get there. For instance, cruises—which are popular among older adults—can be breeding ground for transmissible diseases like norovirus, influenza, and COVID-19, according to the CDC.[]

Travel benefits

Not everyone needs to stop traveling. And ultimately, someone’s decision about travel should be made between themselves and with you, the provider.

Some older adults may decide that the benefits of travel outweigh potential risks. On the other hand, for people who are otherwise healthy and financially stable, studies suggest that travel can be emotionally fulfilling and may significantly reduce health risks.[] 

Dealing with backlash

Not all older adults need or want to cut back on travel. Particularly when it comes to driving, studies show that some older adults cling to the wheel for as long as they can, letting go only when a failed driver’s test or eye exam forcibly removes them from the road. And in comparison to previous generations, aging members of the baby boomer generation can be more resistant to giving these things up.[]

“This is a very common problem,” says Cutler. “We've got an aging population, this baby boomer generation, now reaching retirement age and beyond. They have more money than any other generations ever had at that point in life; they have the means for travel, and—as the world opens up after COVID—the opportunity for travel.”

But while a lot more people are traveling into old age, “our basic physiology hasn't changed that much,” Cutler adds. “The risks are the same as they've always been.”

As such, if you are preparing to give a patient a “no travel” recommendation, you may want to prepare for some backlash, too. Cutler suggests acknowledging the patient’s disappointment and anger, which could be a sign of underlying grief.

It can also be helpful to encourage patients to think of alternatives to travel. Some options include:

  • Local visits with loved ones

  • Phone calls

  • Group video calls

  • Nature walk with friends

“Some people think enjoyment comes from the particular location they’re going to, or making that ‘one scuba dive of a lifetime,’” Cutler says. “It's really the social engagement that gives people the most pleasure and happiness.”

And, if what they miss most is Osbourne’s tour, they might be in luck. If his tweet is any indication, the rock star may have a travel-free concert in the works. 

Read Next: Do statins actually cause muscle pain?
Share with emailShare to FacebookShare to LinkedInShare to Twitter