Have you ever noticed that your senior parent’s legs, feet, or ankles appear swollen? This painless swelling, called edema, is a buildup of excess fluid, and it’s a common problem for older adults. It can occur in any part of the body, but it is most often seen in the extremities. Gravity can make it more apparent in the feet and ankles.
Causes of Edema
Edema occurs when the tiny blood vessels, or capillaries, leak fluid into the tissues that surround them. This causes the area to swell. There are many things that can cause edema, some of them minor, but others more serious. Some causes of edema are:
- Sitting for too long.
- Consuming too much salt.
- Wearing tight stockings.
- Medication side effects.
- Congestive heart failure.
- Kidney disease.Cirrhosis of the liver.
- Damaged veins in the legs.
- Problems with the lymphatic system.
- Protein deficiency that is severe and long-term.
If you notice edema in your parent, it’s important to bring it to the doctor’s attention so that any underlying causes can be treated.
Caring for Edema at Home
Once a doctor has determined the cause of the edema, there are things that can be done at home to help ease swelling in the legs and feet. Home treatments include:
- Elevation: Use pillows to raise your parent’s feet above their heart while they are lying down. This should be done several times during the day. It may even be useful to elevate the legs during the night.
- Exercise: Moving the legs can help the heart to pump the extra fluids out of the area. The doctor can recommend some exercises that will help reduce swelling.
- Compression Stockings: The doctor may recommend that your parent use compression stockings on affected limbs. The stockings are usually used after the swelling has gone down to keep fluid from building up in the area again.
- Reduce Salt: Eating a low-sodium diet may reduce edema.
- Massage: Stroking the area using firm, but not painful, strokes toward the heart might help move the extra fluid.
A home care provider can help your parent deal with edema at home. Home care providers can help seniors to elevate their feet by allowing them to lie back while they place pillows under the legs. Home care providers can also help with putting compression stockings on, which can be difficult or impossible for seniors to do on their own. In addition, a home care provider can massage your parent’s legs and encourage them to exercise.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED-ONE ARE CONSIDERING IN-HOMECARE IN PEORIA, AZ, CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT GOLDEN HEART SENIOR CARE. CALL TODAY (623) 748-3301.