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Recognizing and Treating Poor Blood Circulation in the Elderly

As you age, many changes happen to your body. Some changes are challenging, some are uncomfortable and some bring new life perspective. For a large number of seniors, changes in the circulatory system can make life a bit uncomfortable. It is common during the aging process for the circulatory system to begin to wear down due to strain on the arteries and veins. Additionally, seniors are often less active than younger age groups, which means blood isn’t flowing as easily. Because poor circulation in older persons is often a sign of an underlying disease in a progressive state, life-threatening complications – such as blood clots – can occur if it is not treated properly. The most common symptoms of poor circulation are:

  • Pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tingling
  • Throbbing or stinging pain in your limbs
  • Numbness

At St. Paul’s Senior Community, our community is open and active with a true focus on health and safety. Strong relationships and an active lifestyle are some of the best ways to keep your circulation healthy and to have the support to identify any changes in your health.

Legs and feet are two parts of the body where it is most common for seniors to experience poor circulation. For seniors and caregivers, it is important to understand the underlying cause of poor circulation, as well as how to improve blood circulation in legs and feet and how to build an engaged, active lifestyle that supports overall health.

What Causes Bad Circulation in Feet?

If you are one of the many American seniors with poor circulation in your feet, your feet may feel numb or cold. Your feet may turn blue, purple or white and these symptoms can become worse when you stand for long periods of time. Additional symptoms of poor circulation in the feet include:

  • Hair loss on the legs or feet
  • Dry or cracked skin
  • Slow wound healing
  • Weak toenails

For some seniors, the symptoms of poor circulation are caused by underlying conditions that could be worsening. For example, some heart conditions and varicose veins can contribute to poor circulation. Other potential causes of poor circulation in older persons could include:

Acrocyanosis
This condition causes the extremities – like the toes or fingers – to turn blue because the blood vessels are constricting and preventing blood flow.

Raynaud’s Disease
This disease causes the blood vessels to narrow when you get cold or when you are experiencing stress. This narrowing of the blood vessels limits the amount of blood flow that reaches the toes and fingers, and it can also impact the lips, nipples, ears and nose.

Diabetes
A senior with diabetes is at greater risk of blood vessels becoming damaged. Without treatment, diabetes patients can develop reduced circulation in the feet, as well as foot ulcers.

Arteriosclerosis
This condition is caused by high blood pressure. It occurs when the arteries harden and blood cannot travel easily to where it needs to go.

Peripheral Artery Disease
This condition is caused when arteriosclerosis is left untreated. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) happens when plaque builds up in your arteries and causes tissue death.

It is important to understand these potential underlying causes, but there are also risk factors for poor circulation in older persons. These include:

  • Low levels of physical activity
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking

For seniors living in communities like St. Paul’s, there is an active care plan to stay on top of any changes in health conditions and to keep residents active and engaged. A physically active lifestyle is vital in maintaining overall health.

How to Improve Blood Circulation in Legs and Feet

So, how do you fix poor circulation in your feet? The very first thing is to note that if you think you may have an underlying condition, it is crucial for you to speak with your physician. If you do not have an underlying disease that is causing poor circulation in your feet, there are a number of strategies that may help, including:

  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol
  • Massage
  • Staying warm
  • Staying active
  • Wearing compression socks

A Safe and Healthy Future

When planning for the future, a safe and healthy environment is one of the best tools to keep you on track. Facilities like St. Paul’s, that offer assisted living, independent living, memory care and rehabilitation and extended stay options, are able to grow with you as your needs change. The St. Paul community in Belleville, Ill., is committed to providing the activities, social engagements and daily support you need to create the lifestyle you want. Contact us today to learn more about the opportunities awaiting you.