BLOG - SWOLLEN FEET AND ANKLES IN THE OLDER PERSON, IS IT NORMAL? 

Many older people suffer with swollen ankles and feet and this can be really alarming. But the good news is that usually this is just part of the aging process.  
 
In young and middle-aged people swollen feet (when not pregnant) is definitely a reason to see a GP. Also in any age group a single swollen leg, ankle or foot is a cause for concern.  
 
In the older population having the feet and ankles in both legs swell is something to be managed carefully but not anything to be too worried about unless there is a sudden change in this. 
Feet and ankles can swell because there is no pump in the feet to pump blood back up the leg.  
 
Our calf muscle takes on this roll and when toned will push blood up through the leg veins during mobility. As we get older the calf muscle becomes weaker and used less productively because we walk slower and spend more time with both feet on the ground. Along with the weakening calf pump the veins which rely on a valve system (See image) to prevent back flow can become less effective and allow fluid to fall back down the veins and pool in the ankle tissues. 
 
To help the fluid in the ankles flow back up the legs the trick is to reduce the pull of gravity by elevating the legs, ideally above hip height but if this is difficult to achieve then resting with the legs elevated on a foot stool of any height is fine.  
 
Wearing soft top socks to prevent the sock cutting into the ankles and applying cream to keep the skin strong are essential to help stop problems arising from everyday swelling. 
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