Caring for the elderly can be a very difficult task. When people reach their golden years, they often require special care routines and considerations since they can experience a decline in physiological functions such as blood flow and reduced muscle capacity.
Aging is also associated with a variety of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Because of this, it is important to find ways to help the elderly improve their quality of life and overall health and wellness.
There are several things you can do for your elderly loved ones at home that can improve their quality of life. Compression socks are garments that provide comfort and support to your lower legs. It's amazing just how big of a difference ankle support makes. There are several health benefits to wearing compression socks. Here are some of the benefits of compression socks and why you should encourage your elderly loved ones to use them.
Medical professionals often prescribe compression socks, elastic and non-elastic bandages boots, hosiery or compression stockings for patients who are experiencing poor circulation and blood flow. Many of these people also experience an increase in swelling due to venous disorders or hypertension. Even though doctors prescribe a range of different compression solutions, compression stockings are a common prescription. They are more acceptable, easier to put on and typically stay on your leg or ankle much longer than a bandage.
Compression socks are also vary popular and come in various materials that can provide a range of pressure but work through similar mechanisms. Socks can cause a uniform pressure on the leg, or they can apply pressure through a gradient.
What are the benefits of compression socks?
Experts claim that the benefits of compression socks for the elderly include reducing swelling and attending to various health concerns including:
- deep vein thrombosis
- venous insufficiency and chronic venous insufficiency (CVI)
- symptoms of varicose veins
Deep vein thombosis is a condition in which you develop a blood clost deep in the veins. This typically occurs in your legs and results in swelling, pain, and tenderness. Venous insufficiency works similarly. It occurs when veins insufficiently move blood from the legs to the heart typically as a result of a blood clot or vericose veins.
Venous insufficiency becomes a chronic condition if your veins are unable to perform their necessary functions over an extended period of time. Your chances of developing venous insufficiency increase if you are obese, over age 50, pregnant, from a family with a history of CVI, or a smoker.
How do they work?
Compression socks provide pressure to your leg which forms a gradient. Gradient compression simply means that something forces the blood to move upward from your leg toward your heart. Gravity can make this difficult, especially for seniors, so tools like socks or boots can really make a difference.
By applying this gradient, the veins in the leg constrict which encourages the blood to return to the heart. As a result, blood circulation in the body improves. This also prevents swelling, as fluid that has accumulated is also cleared by the improvement in overall circulation.
In addition to improving blood flow, compression socks reduce muscle vibrations. This reduces muscle fatigue and stablizes leg muscles. The increase in blood flow also clears lactic acid, the metabolite responsible for making your legs feel tired and sore.
Finding the Right Compression Socks
In order to maximize the benefits of compression socks, it is important to find the socks that will provide the proper amount of pressure and support without constricting blood flow.
Compression socks, when used correctly, should be firm but not constricting or too difficult to remove. Using socks that are too loose will not provide the benefits of using compression socks. Wearing socks that are too tight could actually restrict blood flow leading to more serious health concerns.
Most compression socks come in several different sizes, length and materials. They can cover your calves or go all the way up to your knees. You should work with your elderly loved ones to determine what type of socks are best suited for them.
Compression socks should not be difficult to put on. Although some elderly may require assistance putting on their socks, if they do not go on easily, it is a good indicator that they are not the right size. They should never cause any discomfort or be hard to put on or take off.
Get Clearance from Medical Professionals
Like any type of medical therapy, you should check with medical professionals before using compression socks with elderly loved ones and patients. There are certain medical conditions that you should not use compression socks with, such as severe arterial disease in the legs, congestive heart failure, skin infections or immobility.
This could raise even more concerns and could potentially lead to leg amputation or even death. It is also best to use compression socks during the day before any swelling may occur. You should also monitor the use to ensure that they are not causing constriction and are still comfortable.
Other ways to encourage blood flow and circulation
There are also several other ways you can encourage blood flow and improve circulation in the elderly. Taking a light walk or engaging in other activities are a great way to improve circulation. It might be a great way for your loved one to get some exercise and maybe get some fresh air and take in some scenery.
You can also try giving them a massage such as a Swedish or deep tissue. A Swedish massage tends to focus on the entire body whereas a deep tissue focuses on specific parts of the body.
A massage can improve blood flow and circulation and also has many benefits for overall health and wellness. Not only will it allow your elderly loved one to feel more relaxed, studies have shown there are several touch benefits that come from interactions like massages and hugs.
Overall, compression garments for the elderly can be used therapeutically or as a preventative measure for those at risk or for those who need help improving circulation related issues. You should always check with a medical professional to see if it is safe for your elderly loved ones to use compression socks.
You should always use socks that are the proper size so that they are comfortable and do not cause blood constriction. Using compression therapy at home is one way you can keep your elderly loved ones healthier and happier.
AUTHOR BIO: Sarah writes for compressioninfo.com. Her goal is to educate her readers about the importance of taking care of one’s self with the help of compression gear.