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Tips for Getting Rid of Swollen Ankles, Legs and Feet for Seniors

Updated: Mar 12, 2023

Swollen ankles, legs and feet are common issues for seniors.

Living with swollen legs and ankles can increase the chance of falling, make moving around more challenging, and general feelings of discomfort in the lower body.

Over all, this condition can impact daily activities for seniors and pose a safety threat.

Read on to find out what causes swollen ankles and legs and some lifestyle tips that can help this condition. We’ve also included some simple exercises from physical therapists, Bob Schrupp and Brad Henick, which may relieve symptoms.

As always, our blog posts are for information purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Please always consult your GP or trusted health professional if you are experiencing swollen ankles, legs, or feet.

What causes swollen ankles and legs?

When the body retains fluid in the feet, ankles, and legs this causes these areas to swell.

This condition is called edema. While it can affect various age groups, it is common among seniors and the swelling can be caused for a variety of reasons:

According to Health Direct, fluid retention can be caused by:

  • heart conditions such as heart failure or cardiomyopathy

  • chronic lung disease

  • thyroid problems

  • malnutrition

  • kidney failure, cirrhosis of the liver or an underactive thyroid

Certain medications cause fluid retention, such as:

  • some antidepressants

  • some heart and blood pressure medicines

  • corticosteroids

  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

A sedentary lifestyle and a diet high in sodium may also lead to fluid retention.

How to reduce swelling in ankles, legs, and feet

Lifestyle changes which may help reduce edema in the lower body include

  • Walking wearing elastic compression stockings

  • Wearing comfortably fitting shoes that aren’t tight for feet. Read our blog on tips for buying shoes for very swollen feet.

  • Reduce salt intake. Sodium is the active ingredient in salt which causes water retention.

  • Increase gentle movement and exercise throughout the day.

  • Lose excess weight.

  • Try soaking feet and legs in a bath of epsom salts for 20 minutes.

  • Increase hydration. It may sound strange that boosting hydration levels can relieve water retention but dehydration actually causes fluid retention.

  • Eating more magnesium rich foods. Some of the best sources of magnesium include pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, and boiled spinach.

Exercises to help reduce water retention in legs, ankles, and feet

We’ve turned to physical therapists, Bob Schrupp and Brad Henick, to share the top exercises to help reduce swelling in the lower body.

Below you'll find a quick run-down of the exercise time-stamps. If you wish to skip through to a certain exercise, click on the link below and it will take you to that point in the video.

1. Trunk flexes 3:00

2. Trunk rotations 3:22

3. But squeezes 4:22

4. Marching in place pour 4:35

5. Kick outs 4:52

6. Ankle pumps 5:24

7. Wiggle your toes 5:45

Always consult your GP first!

Before making any diet, lifestyle or medication changes it is essential to consult with a trusted GP or health care professional. In some cases swollen ankles, legs, and feet can be the sign of a more serious underlying health issue.


About Adaptive Clothing Australia

We are a Brisbane-based, family run business with more than 22 years' experience working with aged care mobility products and clothing. We pride ourselves on delivering quality services with a caring, personal touch. Our team of experts is dedicated to providing you with the most accurate and reliable information to help you make informed decisions about your adaptive clothing needs.

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