Swollen ankles in the elderly are due to a variety of causes. When they appear, seniors and caregivers should be vigilant if other symptoms manifest. A call to the doctor can help pinpoint the cause of the swollen ankles. Many cases of ankle swelling can be alleviated with home remedies.
How does a caregiver identify swollen ankles?
Seniors with swollen ankles may feel their socks or pants have become too snug. A visual inspection of the swollen ankles will show the skin has stretched or become shiny. A caregiver may press on the swollen ankles; if the pressed ankles leave an indent, they are swollen.
When other symptoms occur, the caregiver should immediately call the senior’s doctor. Examples of symptoms that require medical attention include pain, redness, and heat around the ankles. Seek medical care if the senior experiences shortness of breath or swelling of one limb.
What are inflammation and edema?
Inflammation is a result of the tissue in the legs becoming irritated and swollen. Broken bones or torn ligaments or tendons can cause inflammation. Inflammatory illnesses, like arthritis, can also trigger inflammation. Inflammation can cause parts of the body, like the ankles, to swell.
Edema is another term for fluid buildup. The legs’ tissues and blood vessels might retain excess water, which leads to fluid buildup. Being overweight, a lack of exercise and sitting or standing for prolonged periods can cause edema, and the ankles could swell.
What are some causes of swollen ankles?
One or both legs can retain extra water when the senior has congestive heart failure. The heart muscle is weak in these patients and lacks the ability to pump the blood efficiently. The condition leads to fluid buildup, especially in the legs. Shortness of breath may be an additional symptom.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can also cause swollen legs. A senior with DVT has a blood clot in a vein located in the legs. The calf may swell, as blood pools in the leg. A swollen leg is the first sign of DVT. Call a doctor if leg pain occurs.
Chronic kidney disease prevents the body from filtering water and waste material in the blood. As a result, fluid accumulates in the body and leads to swelling in the legs or arms. If the kidneys stop working (acute kidney failure), the legs, ankles and feet will likely swell.
Some medications can cause the ankles to swell. Prescription drugs that are known to cause swollen legs include certain diabetes medicines and some antidepressants. Heart medicines (calcium channel blockers) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, are also to blame.
Arthritis and joint problems are culprits when it comes to swollen legs. Gout, knee bursitis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are inflammatory conditions that result in swelling of the lower extremities. Plus, a broken bone or twisted ankle can lead to some swelling.
What are remedies for swollen ankles?
Most seniors with swollen ankles have an excellent prognosis. Alleviating the swollen ankles is dependent on the cause of the issue. In general, however, successfully treating the swollen area relies on pinpointing and correcting the cause of the fluid retention.
Modifying the senior’s diet can reduce the likelihood of swollen ankles. Caregivers are advised to prepare a low-salt diet for the senior. Prepare balanced meals, so that the senior does not gain excess weight; or help the senior lose weight, if necessary.
Regular physical exercise is advised to not only maintain a healthy weight but to help pump fluid from the legs back to the heart. During long car rides, allow the senior to switch positions and stop for breaks often, which help to reduce swollen ankles.
Elevating the Legs
A caregiver should help the senior raise her legs above the heart level for a half hour at least three times per day in fifteen-minute increments to improve blood flow and decrease swelling. Avoid bruising or discomfort by elevating the legs on a cushion, rather than a hard surface.
Wearing support (compression) stockings is also a home remedy. Compression socks gently squeeze the legs. As the tissue beneath the skin undergoes pressure, blood circulation improves in the legs. This results in reduced swelling or the prevention of swelling in the elderly.
In some cases of ankle swelling, additional symptoms may appear, and a medical professional should be immediately consulted. Caregivers should call 911 or the local emergency number when the senior has shortness of breath or experiences chest pain resembling feelings of pressure or tightness.
The physician should be notified when the swelling worsens in a senior with heart or kidney disease. If the elderly individual has a history of liver disease and the swelling spreads to the abdomen, call the doctor. Consult a medical professional when fever accompanies the swelling.
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Professional caregivers from our reputable home care agency assist with the senior’s personal care tasks, perform light housekeeping, offer dependable transportation, cook meals and shop for groceries. We offer companion care, Alzheimer’s care, and after-surgery care, among other flexible types of care.
Assisting Hands Home Care professionals are experienced in providing quality elder care. We monitor the well-being of your loved one. In seniors with swollen ankles, we elevate their feet, provide transportation to the doctor’s office, and ensure the senior consumes a healthy, low-salt diet.
Comfort, dignity and compassionate support are within reach when you choose Assisting Hands Home Care for your loved one’s senior care needs. We serve families with elderly individuals living in the communities surrounding Deerfield, Buffalo Grove, Highland Park, Lake Forest, Lake Zurich, Libertyville, Lincolnshire, Mundelein, Vernon Hills, Illinois. Call us at (847) 595-1222 for an in-home consultation.