Proper circulation is essential to the overall health of elderly people, but is something that many people overlook the importance of. Poor circulation can range from being a minor inconvenience, to being potentially life-threatening. Whether you are a caregiver or suffering from poor circulation yourself, there are a range of things you can do for improving blood circulation and ease your discomfort.
Circulation is a natural and involuntary process, but can become more difficult as we age, as the body struggles with pumping blood back up to the heart. Living a sedentary life can compound circulation issues, meaning it’s key to keep your body moving.
Many elderly people suffer from poor circulation, experiencing swollen feet and ankles, cramping, pain or a heavy sensation in their limbs. There are three common conditions that you may be suffering from if experiencing these symptoms:
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
PAD is a condition where the arteries of the leg are narrowed and harden due to plaque within the arterial wall. PAD can lead to critical limb ischemia, infraction, tissue death and even amputation if left untreated. It is also known to increase the risk of strokes or heart attacks.
Varicose veins are a common problem, particularly among the elderly, where superficial leg veins become enlarged due to the accumulation of blood. Varicose veins often result from living a sedentary life or standing and sitting for long periods of time.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
DVT is when blood clots form in the legs, obstructing blood flow. DVT can arise as a complication of varicose veins, and is caused by many of the same lifestyle factors.
Poor circulation can clearly result in significant problems among the elderly. Thankfully, there are a range of things that can be done to prevent the above circulatory problems, or to ease the pain if you or your elderly loved one is experiencing circulatory issues.
- Moving around is one of the simplest and most effective ways to get your blood pumping. Yoga, walking, swimming or using exercise equipment like pedal exercises are all great ways to boost your circulatory system. Pedal exercisers are particularly great as they allow you to sit on a chair and exercise your legs or to exercise your arms and hands, all in the one piece of equipment.
Start with an activity that you enjoy at a moderate intensity, and then continue to challenge yourself as you become fitter. Remember to rest after your workouts, so as not to cause more pain.
- Smoking is a huge cause of circulatory issues, as it narrows the arteries and restricts blood flow. By quitting smoking, you will soon notice an improvement in your circulation, among other things.
- Ensure that you are warm and comfortable. Cold weather constricts the blood vessels even further, whereas warmth causes vasodilation which improves circulation and eases cramping. Even putting on socks when indoors can be a great way of warming up.
- When resting, try elevating your feet or soaking them in warm water to alleviate swelling.
- Conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity or diabetes are some very common causes of poor circulation. By taking care of your overall health and taking the required medicines, you set yourself up for healthy artery and vein functioning.
- Diet is a huge determinant of health, and has an effect on your circulation too. Foods rich in vitamin C (tomatoes, citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables), vitamin E (vegetable oils and nuts), omega-3 fatty acids (seafood) and vitamin B (leafy greens, dried beans, fish, meat and eggs) have all been proven to improve circulation.
- If your problems persist, medication or surgery may be necessary. Always talk to your doctor to ensure that you do not develop a more serious condition.
Circulation is something that many people do not think about until they begin to experience symptoms. Contrary to popular belief, poor circulation is not a necessary part of ageing, and can actually be prevented or remedied with the above tips.
Poor circulation is often thought of a minor issue that is part and parcel of ageing, but can result in serious complications if left untreated. Because of this, it is vital to maintain your circulatory health as you age, or to assist your ageing loved ones if they are experiencing pain or discomfort in their limbs.
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