Managing Circulation Issues in Senior Citizens with Compression Socks

Written By: William Rivers
Reviewed By: William Rivers
Published: May 4, 2023
Last updated: September 25, 2023

Many older adults experience poor circulation due to a variety of factors, including age-related changes, lifestyle habits, and medical conditions. Compression socks are a popular option for senior citizens who experience swelling, discomfort, or circulation issues in their legs. 

These safe compression socks for seniors are designed to provide graduated compression, which means the pressure is higher at the ankle and gradually decreases up the leg. This compression helps to promote blood flow and reduce discomfort in the swollen legs.

There are different types of compression socks available, and it's essential to choose the right one based on senior individual needs and preferences. 

For instance, mild compression socks (15-20 mmHg) are suitable for those with mild swelling or discomfort, while moderate compression socks (20-30 mmHg) are recommended for those with more severe symptoms.

Putting on and taking off compression socks can be challenging, especially for seniors with mobility issues. Therefore, it is recommended to sit or lie down while putting on compression socks and use a sock aid or rubber gloves to help with the process.

In this article we dive into how compression socks can be used for managing circulations in senior citizens. 

Reducing swelling

Yes, compression socks can help reduce swelling in elderly people. Swelling in the legs, also known as edema, is a common issue among older adults. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor circulation, standing or sitting for prolonged periods, and medical conditions such as heart failure or kidney disease.

The pressure from compression socks help to prevent fluid buildup in the legs and can lower the swelling and support the veins and valves in the legs that transport blood back to the heart. 

When the veins are supported, blood can flow more efficiently, and fluid buildup is less likely to occur. It's important to note that compression socks are not a substitute for medical treatment for swollen legs. If you have concerns about edema, it's important to talk to your healthcare provider. 

They can help determine the underlying cause of your symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment, which may include compression socks as part of a comprehensive plan. In addition, elderly people can also consider strength training for muscle strength. 

Improving venous return

Compression socks can be particularly beneficial for improving venous return in elderly individuals, as they are more likely to experience circulation issues such as varicose veins and venous insufficiency.

As people age, the calf muscles may become weaker, reducing the effectiveness of the muscle pump. These socks can provide external pressure on the muscles, helping to enhance the muscle pump and improve venous return.

Also since elderly individuals are at a higher risk of developing blood clots, which can impair venous return, these socks can reduce the risk of blood clots by improving blood flow and preventing blood from pooling in the legs.

Managing varicose veins

Varicose veins are a common issue among elderly individuals, and compression socks can be particularly helpful in managing this condition. 

By providing graduated compression, compression socks can help reduce the diameter of the veins, prevent blood from pooling, and alleviate symptoms such as pain, and discomfort. 

Compression socks can also enhance the muscle pump in the calf, which is particularly important in elderly individuals who may have weaker muscles. By improving blood flow and reducing symptoms, compression socks can help elderly individuals with varicose veins maintain their mobility and quality of life. I

It's important to note that compression socks should be worn regularly and correctly to achieve maximum benefits.

Preventing deep vein thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious condition in which a blood clot forms in a deep vein, typically in the legs. This can lead to pain, and in severe cases, the clot can break loose and travel to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism, which can be life-threatening. 

For individuals who are at a higher risk of DVT, such as those who have had previous blood clots, are undergoing surgery, or have prolonged immobility, compression socks can be particularly helpful in preventing this condition.

Types of Compression Socks for Elderly People

There are several types of compression socks available for elderly people, each designed to meet specific needs and preferences. Here are some common types:

  • Knee-high compression socks: These socks provide graduated compression from the ankle to just below the knee, and are commonly used to manage varicose veins in the lower leg and can be worn with special slippers for seniors.
  • Thigh-high compression stockings: These stockings provide graduated compression from the ankle all the way up to the thigh. They are typically used for more severe varicose veins or to manage lymphedema.
  • Compression stockings with open-toe design: These socks are designed with an open-toe style, which can be more comfortable for individuals with sensitive toes or those who prefer to wear sandals or open-toe shoes.
  • Anti-embolism stockings: These stockings are specifically designed to prevent blood clots in individuals who are at a high risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), such as those who have undergone surgery or have limited mobility. They typically have a higher level of compression and a special design to promote blood flow.
  • Customized compression stockings: These socks are designed to fit the individual's unique measurements and needs. They are often prescribed by a healthcare provider for individuals with more complex circulation issues.

It's important for elderly individuals to consult with their healthcare provider to determine the appropriate type of compression sock and level of compression that is best for their individual needs. 

Properly fitted compression socks can provide significant relief for circulation issues and improve mobility and quality of life.

In conclusion, compression socks can be a valuable tool for elderly individuals for taking care of the leg and circulation related issues including varicose veins, swelling, and deep vein thrombosis. By providing graduated compression, these socks can help support the veins and valves in the legs which can alleviate symptoms and prevent serious health conditions and maintain the quality of life. 

However, always remember to use compression socks correctly to achieve maximum benefits, and individuals should consult with their healthcare provider to determine the appropriate level of compression and use of these socks in combination with other treatments. 

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William Rivers is an editor with a master’s degree in Human Services Counseling at Maine State University. He has more than 20 years of experience working in the senior healthcare industry.
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