United Methodist

How Seniors Can Get Rid of Swollen Ankles

How seniors can get rid of swollen ankles

Have you noticed that your senior loved one has swollen ankles? This is a common problem that older adults encounter, and it can have a negative impact on their safety and their comfort. However, the good news is that you can help your loved one manage their swollen ankles, and in this article, we’ll share some of our most helpful tips and tricks. It’s always recommended to speak with your loved one’s physician if their swelling is persistent, or if it’s causing them a lot of discomfort. 

Causes of Swollen Ankles in Seniors

As we spend the majority of our day upright standing or sitting, fluid within the body can gather in the legs and feet, causing swollen ankles. A common term for this swelling is edema, and it can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Being sedentary or inactive. Our mobility and ability to move around changes as we age, and if your loved one is spending most of their day sitting in their favorite chair, it can result in swollen ankles. 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Certain vascular conditions.
  • Chronic kidney disease.
  • Healing from an operation.
  • Certain heart conditions.

Lifestyle Changes that can Reduce Swelling in the Ankles

As mentioned above, always check with your loved one’s doctor before making any lifestyle changes. There are several adjustments that can reduce and help prevent ankle swelling, including:

  • Stay properly hydrated. Is your loved one drinking enough water every day? Dehydration can cause the body to retain fluids and can result in swollen feet and ankles. 
  • Increase magnesium intake. Magnesium is known to boost circulation and can be found in supplement form, or naturally in foods like nuts, seeds, legumes, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Get up and get moving. You don’t need to run or jump around to get rid of swollen ankles. Instead, encourage your loved one to start taking daily walks – join them if you can – and encourage them to do some basic movements with their knees and ankles, like bending, straightening, and flexing.
  • Reduce sodium intake. Is your loved one eating a lot of processed foods? A sodium-heavy diet can cause fluid retention in the body, so speak with your loved one’s doctor about making some positive changes. 
  • Wear compression socks or stockings to promote circulation. 
  • Use an ottoman or a foot stool to put their feet up periodically, so the fluid doesn’t gather in the ankles and feet. 
  • Check that your loved one’s shoes aren’t too tight. Tight footwear can restrict circulation and may be making the issue worse. 

Simple Home Exercises for Swollen Ankles

By repeating a few basic movements on a daily basis, from the comfort of home, your senior loved one can help reduce the swelling in their ankles. We understand that everyone’s abilities are different, so if your family member struggles with these exercises, ask their doctor for alternate recommendations. 

Knee to chest: While lying down flat on the back, keep one leg flat and bend the other leg at the knee, bringing it up towards the chest. Only bend as far as it’s comfortable, and alternate legs for three sets of 10 knee bends.

Butt squeezes: These can be done either sitting or lying down. Squeeze the glute muscles as tight as possible and hold it for three to five seconds. Relax and repeat for three sets of 10 squeezes, and remember don’t hold your breath.

Ankle flex and point: While lying down on the back, move only the feet and flex the toes up towards your head, then point them down in the opposite direction. You’ll feel the ankle joints activating during this exercise, and we recommend three sets of 10.

If you have any questions about alleviating ankle swelling in seniors, or if you have any other questions regarding our senior care services in New Jersey, please contact our team at UMC today: https://umcommunities.org

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    Phone: 732-922-9800