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Caring For A Senior With Edema: Types, Symptoms & Treatment

Caring for a Senior with Edema: Types, Symptoms & Treatment

It’s not uncommon for most of us to experience fluctuations in our weight from time to time. Occasionally, we may even have some light swelling from medications, or if we’ve recently had a minor injury occur. Usually, these issues clear up on their own and are not anything to be concerned with.  However, for senior citizens or individuals with ongoing health issues, these may be cause for greater concern.

Edema is a medical condition that affects millions of Americans each year. Usually, it is the result of heart failure, arthritis, kidney damage, and other chronic health issues that can create an excess of fluid in our bodies.

What are the different types of Edema?

The most common form of edema is known as peripheral edema, which commonly affects the feet or hands, legs, arms, and ankles. Generalized edema, however, affects the entire body, although it is completely possible for it to present in the lower extremities also.

Pulmonary edema usually affects specific organs in the body. This is often seen in cases where a person’s lungs become filled with fluid.  Lymphedema is yet another form of the disease that occurs when there is a malfunction that occurs within the lymphatic system.

The last form of edema we will mention is known as corneal edema. This is often seen when there is a buildup of fluid in the cornea. This can have major impacts on a person’s vision.

How Edema Affects the Elderly

You may be surprised to know that Edema occurs quite commonly in senior citizens. This is because the elderly are often much less active. Furthermore, they have more frequent instances of chronic illnesses, which are treated with medications that can contribute to the problem. Those who are caring for an elderly person with health concerns should understand what signs and symptoms to look out for as it relates to edema. If not carefully monitored, edema can create major health complications, which could result in serious illness or even death.

What are the symptoms of Edema?

When you’re able to recognize edema symptoms, you can begin to treat the disease early on and stop any further damage from occurring. Common symptoms include:

  • Swelling of the extremities or other areas of the body
  • Discoloration of the skin or areas of the skin that look shiny and stretched
  • Body parts that feel tender
  • Sudden fluctuations in weight
  • Dimples in the skin after the area has been touched for several seconds

Other causes of Edema

As mentioned earlier in the article, edema can occur as a result of many different health issues. However, other contributing factors include a poor diet, genetics, physical inactivity, menopause, surgery, or sitting for too long.

Even treating illnesses with certain medications can cause fluid retention in the body.

How to treat Edema

If you believe that you or someone you know has edema, it is critical to seek medical attention right away. If a person goes too long without treatment, they could experience painful swelling of the limbs, stiffness, and difficulty walking, have infections, ulcers, and other conditions related to poor blood circulation. Sometimes it may be necessary for the physician to make adjustments to the patient’s medication in order to better manage the condition.

However, the best way to prevent edema from occurring in the first place is to treat the source of the issue. In fact, it’s also important to maintain a healthy diet in addition to managing health issues with prescribed medications. This is because while medication can help with treating the edema, they can also cause the body to lose important vitamins and minerals.

What you can do to help a person with Edema

Making a few simple life changes can have major health benefits for a person dealing with edema. Following these guidelines can help prevent more serious complications from occurring:

  • Eat healthy meals. Doing so can relieve fluid buildup and replenish the body of its vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  • Therapy. Compression therapy and massage therapy are great methods for preventing blood clots and improving blood circulation.
  • Elevate the feet. Keeping the feet rested above heart level is another way to improve blood circulation, even while sleeping during the night.
  • Stay Active. It’s important to maintain an active lifestyle in order to reduce instances of swelling and eliminate excess fluid.

If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation.  Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.

Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia CareBed & Wheelchair Transfer AssistanceCompanionshipHousekeeping & Meal PreparationPersonal CareRecovery Care, and Transportation.

Serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater San Diego, Family Matter In-Home Care has offices in Campbell, CAPleasanton, CARoseville, CASan Marcos, CA, and San Mateo, CA.

Carol Pardue-Spears

Carol has worked in the healthcare field for more than forty years. As a Certified Nursing Assistant, she worked for El Camino Hospital in the cardiac unit, Los Gatos Community Hospital, The Women’s Cancer Center in Los Gatos and several home health and hospice agencies. Carol founded Family Matters in 2002 to fill a deficit she witnessed in high-quality, in-home services and care.