Like many health issues in elderly adults, some things that start out small develop into more serious conditions because they are left untreated. It’s the same with varicose veins in the elderly. In their most mild form, they don’t seem to cause much trouble, but if they are neglected, elderly adults can suffer from serious health problems and in extreme cases, even death.
So what do family caregivers need to know about varicose veins in their elderly loved ones? Knowing the risk factors, causes, and preventative methods can help seniors manage the condition well, under the supervision of a doctor.
What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins happen when the wall of the vein is enlarged over time. While they most often occur in the legs, the condition can happen almost anywhere. The leg veins bring blood from the feet back to the heart, the longest distance in the body. Not only that, the valves in the leg veins are usually working against gravity.
When the vein walls weaken or enlarge, the valves don’t operate as well, causing some blood to flow backwards into the legs. The blood pools and weakens the vein walls even more. Without treatment, the condition worsens over time. Family caregivers and senior care assistants should inspect the elderly person’s body, particularly the legs, regularly for varicose veins.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Seniors are more at risk for developing varicose veins because one major cause is inactivity. Elderly adults that are in wheelchairs or are bedridden are especially at risk. Other risk factors include being overweight or obese, frequently sitting with legs crossed and multiple pregnancies earlier in life. Genetics may also play a part as varicose veins tend to run in families. Seniors are also more at risk because their circulation slows down and their blood pressure rises due to age.
What are the Symptoms of Varicose Veins?
Symptoms of varicose veins include enlarged and twisted veins just under the surface of the skin. The veins are usually dark blue or purple with smaller veins around the larger ones. Elderly adults may complain of itching or burning at the site, as well as muscle cramps and aching. In some cases, there may be sores near the veins that don’t heal quickly.
Serious cases that are left untreated could result in bleeding, venous ulcers, inflammation of the veins (superficial thrombophlebitis) and blood clots (deep vein thrombosis).
How are Varicose Veins Treated?
Seniors should see a doctor about treatments for varicose veins. In mild cases, elderly adults may have to wear compression stockings and rest with their feet elevated. They should also participate in mild to moderate exercise several days per week. Seniors in wheelchairs or who are bedridden should get help form family members and senior care assistants with stretches and movement. In extreme cases, seniors will need surgery to repair varicose veins.
If you have a loved one who could benefit from senior care in Concord, CA, contact the caregivers at A Better Living Home Care Agency. We help seniors and their families with many levels of home care. Call 925-566-2366 for more information.