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Improving circulation in winter: a guide for older people

Taking steps towards improving circulation in winter can be crucial to ensuring older people maintain the best possible quality of life throughout the colder months.

So, with Raynaud's Awareness Month in full swing, we thought we'd take this opportunity to help you understand and overcome poor circulation as best possible.

In this article, we'll tell you about the symptoms of poor circulation, why older people are at greater risk and what you can do to improve this condition.

What are the symptoms of poor circulation?

Poor circulation is an uncomfortable and prohibitive condition that can have a dramatic effect on the lives of older people.

If you or a loved one have noticed any of the following symptoms, it may be a sign of poor circulation:

  • Coldness in your extremities (hands, feet, legs, and ears)
  • Numbness/tingling in your hands or feet
  • Swelling in your feet, legs or fingers
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Vertigo/dizziness
  • Dry skin

Contact your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms as they may indicate an underlying health issue.

Why are older people more at risk of developing poor circulation?

Rather than being a condition in its own right, poor circulation is usually the consequence of an underlying health condition, such as:

  • Raynaud's disease
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure/cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
  • Peripheral vascular disease (PVD)

The risk of developing these conditions increases with age, making it much more likely for older people to be affected by poor circulation.

Many of these conditions involve the narrowing of arteries, which prevents warm blood from reaching your extremities in sufficient amounts. Blood vessels also tend to narrow naturally with age or stiffen due to cholesterol plaque build-up.

Useful tips for improving circulation in winter

There are plenty of steps you can take to start improving circulation in winter.

You should speak to your doctor for advice about underlying conditions such as those listed above. However, here are some general tips for improving circulation in winter:

1. Staying warm

Make sure to keep your home at a warm, pleasant temperature (18°C minimum) and wrap up in plenty of layers whenever you venture out.

Consume hot meals and drinks regularly to support your body in maintaining a sufficient core temperature. If poor circulation starts to cause you discomfort, think about soaking your feet in warm water.

2. Exercise

Exercise can help get your blood pumping and alleviate the symptoms of poor circulation. A daily walk is ideal, though seated exercises can also be an effective remedy.

Also, avoid staying in positions that apply pressure to your joints (knees, elbows etc.) for unnecessarily long periods, as this can further restrict blood flow to your extremities.

3. Nutrition

Adopting a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains has been associated with improved circulation. Make sure you or your loved one are staying hydrated, too.

4. Lifestyle

Stress and smoking are both known to have a negative effect on circulation, so avoid both wherever possible.

Follow these simple tips to start improving circulation in winter, and look forward to added comfort throughout the winter months.

Find out more about how live-in care puts your comfort and independence at the heart of the care process. Speak to the friendly team at The Good Care Group.