Our body’s circulation system ensures blood, oxygen, and important nutrients reach every cell throughout your body.
And so when blood is not flowing properly to specific parts of your body, you could experience symptoms of hampered circulation such as tingling, numbness, swelling in the feet/ankles, and more.
Now, poor circulation is quite common in elderly people especially their legs due to underlying conditions such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
The heart rate in your elderly loved one may also be slowing because of normal changes such as the natural pacemaker losing some of its cells (happens due to aging).
Whether symptoms are apparent or not, hindered circulation may be dangerous and it’s important to help the senior improve leg circulation (Life-threatening complications like loose blood clots could occur if you don’t address it).
Here is how to improve leg circulation in the elderly before potentially serious complications occur:
How to improve leg circulation in the elderly
So, what should you do if you notice symptoms of circulatory problems in your older relative?
The first thing is to arrange medical attention for your senior citizen and have them follow their doctor’s advice. This will hopefully cure the condition (s) causing poor circulation.
Besides, the following steps can help promote circulation:
How to improve leg circulation in the elderly- Basic steps
1. Eating healthy meals
Eating a heart-healthy diet (with minimal amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol) is important for good circulation.
We all know that fat deposits – as a result of eating excessively fatty foods- can get in the way of the pathways that transport blood and other essentials, hurting circulation.
2. Help the elder control their weight
Despite its importance to our overall wellbeing, maintaining a healthy weight can be pretty challenging as we age.
Fact is: According to research, the majority of seniors lead a sedentary lifestyle.
The good news is that by supporting your aged loved one make healthy lifestyle choices, this is a battle he/she can win.
The starting point is what we have just discussed- watching what they’re eating.
In addition, you should help him/her make the necessary diet changes for weight loss including drinking a lot of water.
Next, you want to nudge him/her back to an active lifestyle.
There are plenty of great ideas you can try here including:
- Motivating your aging parent/patient to walk daily.
- Urging the senior to perform as many activities as possible daily- This can have the bonus benefit of helping them live more independently.
- Having them join appropriate fitness groups (or classes).
- Assist him to do more safe exercises at home (there are suitable options even for elders with limited mobility).
3. Reduce/stop smoking
Giving up cigarettes can be a masterstroke.
Not only does smoking elevate your risk of conditions such as heart problems – and we know you’ll never achieve appropriate circulation with a heart condition- and diabetes but it’s also a bad example for your grandchildren.
In fact, quitting smoking significantly improves blood circulation to all corners of the body within 2 weeks – 3 months, no matter your age.
4. Avoid practices that obstruct blood flow to the legs
Habits such as sitting for many hours can slow down the flow of blood to her legs.
To be clear, sitting for most hours weakens the leg muscles so blood struggles to reach the lower limbs
You should, therefore, encourage the elder to, at least, alternate between sitting and standing- standing strengthens the valves in your elder’s veins so blood flows back up to the heart more easily.
There are other helpful measures including elevating the legs when seated – help her do this using an elevating leg pillow.
This again has extra benefits.
For example, with her legs elevated, there is reduced strain on her lower back (very helpful if she suffers back problems).
Plus, it’s generally relaxing if done right.
Tip: Help your elderly patient prop their legs on a pillow while sleeping. It does wonders for blood flow as they sleep.
Finally, stretching regularly can benefit blood flow as well.
How to improve leg circulation in the elderly- other techniques
You can increase circulation to your aged parent’s leg by implementing these tactics:
· Wearing Compression Socks
Compression socks for elderly people such as this are a fantastic intervention for seniors who sit throughout the day.
They apply mild squeezing action beginning at the ankles all the way up the leg to rejuvenate blood circulation in the legs.
This is because the pressure powers blood flow back up to the heart.
Keep in mind that these socks also help circulation in swollen legs (they actually help ease the pain!).
· Give him a massage
Even though many people think that a massage is just a cool way to kick back, it comes with loads of clinically proven health benefits.
Top of the list of the benefits is improved circulation in the cardiac and lymphatic systems.
Subsequently, massaging your senior’s legs boosts circulation because you’ll be manipulating his/her soft tissue physically.
· Dip into a bathtub
Taking a warm bath also aids blood flow to the legs and indeed increases circulation throughout our whole bodies as arteries and veins expand and dilate easily.
Of course, this is only practical as a temporary relief- there are instances you may realize that you need an immediate solution like when he/she is completely numb (probably because of continually sitting in a wrong posture).
· Dry brush the legs
Dry brushing (brushing against the leg skin using a soft, natural-bristle brush), is a common practice among wellness-worshipping celebrities and can help move blood along the right way.
Be careful not to scratch too hard – and you should start at his/her feet and work gently upward.
Search for appropriate YouTube videos to guide you if unsure about the entire process.
In a nutshell, you can improve leg circulation in your affected elderly by making sure they eat healthily and adopt healthy lifestyle habits such as doing appropriate exercises and quitting smoking.
Furthermore, it’s important to stop blood flow impeding habits such as standing or sitting for many hours (without elevating the legs).
Wearing compression gear, giving him/her a thorough leg massage, and even dry brushing their legs can also be helpful.
Remember to consult a doctor throughout.