Poor Circulation: It’s More Than Just a Chill

April 11, 2014

It’s spring time, but despite the rising temperatures many seniors find that keeping away the chills and staying warm remains a challenge.

Better nutrition and gentle exercise may help ward off chills by  improving circulation

Better nutrition and gentle exercise may help ward off chills by improving circulation

Poor circulation is a common problem among seniors and is responsible for more than just cold hands and feet.  What problems does it cause? How do you encourage good circulation? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you keep your senior loved ones warm and healthy.

Why so Sluggish?

Poor circulation can occur at any age, but seniors are even more susceptible to it than the rest of us. Certain daily, long-established habits such as smoking can, over time, reduce circulation.

Being overweight also affects circulation, especially if it results from a high intake of heart-unfriendly foods and a lack of exercise. Seniors who have always been sedentary may find that their circulation is even worse as the aging process really sets in.

Cardiovascular disease is a common reason for poor circulation in seniors. A weak heart cannot effectively pump blood to the extremities.

Poor posture and tension can restrict blood flow to the brain. That neck stiffness is more than just a pain; it may be preventing you from concentrating and thinking clearly.

Problems Resulting from Poor Circulation

One of the more noticeable symptoms of poor circulation is, as already mentioned, cold feet and hands. Seniors may find they are still cold even while they are bundled up and the rest of them is warm.

Cognitive problems are common among those with severely restricted circulation. Difficulty concentrating, dizziness, slow response time, and headaches are a few of the brain-related problems resulting from poor circulation. Shortness of breath and fatigue also go hand in hand with poor circulation.

How to Keep It Pumping

Lifestyle changes might be in order if your heart is to keep blood flowing as it should. Such changes include:

  • Quit smoking as soon as possible.
  • Take up gentle exercise, such as walking. For seniors, this may mean gentle movements even while in bed, to keep the blood flowing.
  • Change your diet to include more heart-healthy foods. Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, and oats are excellent, heart-friendly foods. Also include a diverse selection of vegetables. In today’s world, it may seem like microwave, or already prepared meals are the way to go, but with just a little planning you can give your heart the nutrients it needs to fight poor circulation.
  • Ask your doctor about supplements and medication for circulation. Coenzyme Q10 is a supplement commonly used for its heart healthy benefits.
  • Take a crack at circulation. Osteopathic doctors and chiropractors are trained in aligning the spine to increase blood flow. In addition, daily stretching, as well as just getting up and changing positions from time to time, can go a long way to increasing blood circulation.

Poor circulation is a problem for many and a consultation with your family physician will help determine the next best steps to aiding better circulation.

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