Tips to Improve Circulation in Elderly People Every Day
Several ways to improve circulation in elderly people exist. While this remains important each day, the current pandemic has amplified the need.
When our bodies move, they invigorate our circulation and enable nutrient and oxygen-filled blood to move through our entire body. In fact, the more we move, the more our bodies receive those essentials.
Think of the circulatory system as a roadway. When the roadway traffic flows freely, all the vehicles reach their destinations as they should. However, if traffic is held up, those vehicles find themselves in a traffic jam. Moving slowly or often not at all, the cars cannot get to the needed places.
Likewise, our circulatory system needs to be kept flowing freely. A proper diet certainly helps with this function. However, we also need to help the circulation by moving our bodies.
In our elderly, this presents extra problems. Not only do their circulatory systems often become compromised by their age and health factors. They also often lack the movements to pump the blood smoothly throughout the body. After all, most elderly exercise less, if at all. And they frequently prefer a more sedentary lifestyle, either by choice or due to injury or health problems.
When this happens, our loved ones might find themselves in an endless cycle. They don’t feel like moving much. So they don’t. That causes the circulation to decrease, which in turn makes them feel less like moving. Without the oxygen and nutrients being delivered to each cell, the body begins to slow down even more.
Stroke, Heart Disease, Injuries, and More
My Dad was always very active and energetic. We never considered he might develop mobility and then circulation problems. But a sudden change in his life (the loss of my Mom, his lifelong friend, and wife of almost 50 years) caused him to change some habits. That led to a stroke.
While the stroke itself did some damage, the bigger issue became mobility. A combination of true problems from the stroke and a fear of falling further exasperated the problem. Soon, he developed some circulation issues.
This pattern in our elderly is quite common. In fact, a major life event often leads to a series of problems. Acting quickly often stops or slows the downward spiral.
Fortunately, we knew from experience with others that we needed to keep Dad active. And, while not easy, it made a huge difference in his quality and quantity of life.
Health care professionals explain the foods and other necessities that our body needs. These enable us to promote health to each part of our body and create a cycle of healthy nutrition and feeling better.
5 Ways to Improve Circulation In Elderly Loved Ones
Drink water, lots of water.
Our blood is 95% water. When we are not drinking enough we dehydrate our system and may not have enough liquids to properly oxygenate. Keep hydrated, drinking lots of water improves circulation and keeps all of you happy.
Often, this presents a problem with our senior citizens. And it was with my Dad, too. He drank water only if it was disguised as coffee or lemonade.
However, you need to remember that not all of our water intake needs to be in a glass of clear liquid. I found that Dad enjoyed watery fruit like watermelon, strawberries, and peaches. And he found some soups and stews satisfying, too. In fact, we avoided any conflicts while keeping him quite hydrated by just increasing high water content food that he enjoyed.
By now, everyone knows that smoking is bad for our health. However, you might not know that the main ingredient of nicotine is not only addictive but also, it thickens your blood. It can thicken your blood so much that it clogs. And those clogged arteries may lead to heart and other organ diseases. They also contribute to strokes and heart attacks.
Fortunately, my parents, life-long smokers, had given up the addiction when they turned 50. Though it was a challenge for them, they met it together and so were smoke-free for many years.
But what if your elderly loved ones still insist on smoking? The physicians might offer help on this problem. Sometimes, it becomes a matter of just needing that extra incentive. Other times, medical help is needed.
If you just can’t find a way, you need to keep in mind that your loved one needs extra fluids to counter the blood thickening effect of smoking.
When an elderly person needs to sit or lie down a long time, simple stretches help prevent the stalled circulation. Stretching muscles moves the blood through them. Any movement brings oxygen through your blood and around your body. Movement keeps your blood circulating.
I found ways to encourage Dad to stretch, without him thinking of it as exercise. Asking him to reach for things, rather than me moving closer, stretched his arms, shoulders, and back. I had to help with his socks and shoes, so used that time to stretch his legs and even provide some foot stretches.
You might need to get creative. And it’s not always possible to help them stretch every muscle every day. But think about the ways you can increase the stretches.
Additionally, stretches increase the overall mobility by keeping muscles more flexible. Also, I found it helped me find potential health issues sooner.
Change to Compression socks.
By compressing part of the leg you help the blood to circulate out of the legs and to the heart. They provide an important way to improve circulation in elderly legs and feet.
Ask the doctor about the type and size of the compression sock to ensure a proper fit. If your elderly loved one exercises, these socks can be worn during the exercise time, too.We found some quality socks online and were able to order the right size and support
NOTE: They come in different compressions, so make sure you get the ones the doctor specifies. And we found it necessary to keep 4-5 pairs in use, rotating. They do require washing and we used a fresh pair each day. In fact, if he lay down to rest mid-day, I put a fresh pair on him when he awoke. And there were times they just needed changing during the day.
The ones we used for Dad are here:
Dad found compression socks very helpful. I admit that I found them a challenge. Putting them on turned out to be good exercise. For me, that is. Finally, someone suggested this helper tool that made all the difference. Not only was it easier for me, but Dad could actually manage it himself on the good days. It looks very simple, but it works! You can find it here:
Walk, Run, Jog, move.
Most likely, your elderly loved one no longer jogs. If he ever did. But if possible, encourage them to walk at a comfortable pace. Ideally, try for at least 30 minutes 5 days a week. However, those 30 minutes can be in 5 or 10-minute sessions. Whatever he or she is capable of doing comfortably.
The goal is to get the blood pumping. Hopefully getting the heart rate up just a little, but not so much as to make it difficult to breathe. While any aerobic activity is fine, walking is the most common. Keep in mind that safety is paramount. If a walker is needed, use it.
We had a couple of choices for Dad. His favorite was going for a walk with either myself or one of my daughters. On days when he felt weaker, we would simply walk up and down the ramp outside his home. The slight incline helped keep those muscles toned, too.
When Dad was unable to walk, we continued the leg stretches. But we increased the arm and upper body stretching. He seemed to appreciate those even more.
Additionally, we found that Mickey, his little dog, which he called his best friend, provided some much-needed reason to move. At first, he could feed and water him. But over time, I took over that role.
Still, we had to keep him moving.The solutions came quite easily, thanks to that little dog. Dad could let him in and out of the door. He could pet him and even brush him. I think Mickey might have provided as much help for his circulation as us humans.
I’ve spoken to others with elderly loved ones and they find that pets have helped them, as well. For those unable to have a real pet, they often have a couple of plants. It’s a matter of finding what the person truly enjoys and can find a purpose within.