As we age, our bodies undergo various changes that can increase the risk of developing blood clots. Blood clots can be a serious health concern, especially for older adults.
For older adults who live in senior living communities, activities and wellness services can help keep residents healthy and active. While exercise sounds like a lot of work, there are simple exercises like walking, leg pumps, and seated march that seniors can do to help prevent blood clots.
What Are Blood Clots?
Normally, blood flows freely through our veins and arteries. Blood clots are clumps of blood that form when blood cells stick together. It is how the body responds to cuts by forming a clot to stop the bleeding.
However, they can become a problem when they form at other times too, and block blood flow in a vein deep inside the body. This is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and can lead to a heart attack (clots in the heart arteries), stroke (arterial clots in the brain), or other serious medical issues.
If the clot breaks off and travels to the lungs, it can cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be life-threatening. So, while blood clots can be a normal part of the healing process if they form in the wrong place, they can be dangerous.
Symptoms of Blood Clots
Sometimes clots can occur with few or no symptoms. But knowing the warning signs means you can get prompt medical help.
Arms & Legs
The signs of a blood clot deep beneath the arm or leg’s skin surface can include the following:
- Change in color
- Warm skin
- Lower leg cramp
- Fluid buildup
- Swollen veins
- Trouble breathing
A blood clot in or around your heart can present with the following symptoms:
- Severe pain in your chest and arm
- Trouble breathing
A blood clot in the lung usually travels from elsewhere in the body and can be dangerous. Look out for the following signs of a blood clot in the lungs:
- Short of breath or breathing problems
- Pain in your chest
Symptoms of a clot in the brain can include:
- Vision or speech problems
- A seizure
- General weakness
A blood clot in the stomach can present with the following symptoms:
A blood clot in the kidneys can cause the following symptoms:
- Pain in your belly, legs, or thighs
- Blood in your urine
- Nausea or vomiting
- High blood pressure
- Leg swelling
- Trouble breathing
Risk Factors for Developing Blood Clots
Anyone can be at risk for developing blood clots, but certain factors can increase your risk. These can include:
- Older age, such as those who are immobile due to bed rest
- Reduced mobility in older adults can lead to slower blood flow and an increased risk of blood clots
- One-half of blood clots occur after surgery and hospitalization
- Family history
- Injury and trauma
- Recent or recurrent cancer
Exercises to Help Avoid Blood Clots
To reduce their risk of blood clots, seniors can take the necessary steps such as staying active, maintaining a healthy diet, and hydrating. Walking can be a great and simple way to help prevent blood clots. It can be a good idea to begin slowly, walking for a few minutes multiple times a day, and build up to longer walks.
Don’t forget to warm up and cool down before and after exercising. Slow walking for 5 minutes can suffice.
If you aren’t able to get up and move, try these seated exercises:
- Ankle pumps: Move your toes toward your shin while keeping your heels on the ground. Repeat with the other foot.
- Leg extension: While seated, lift one leg and slowly return it to the floor. Repeat with the other leg.
- Seated march: Lift your knee toward your chest and return your foot to the floor. Repeat with your other leg.
Before starting an exercise regime, always check with your healthcare professional about which exercises are appropriate and beneficial for you.
Healthy Active Living
Blood clots can be a serious health concern, especially for seniors. Living an active lifestyle can help improve circulation and lower your risk of blood clots. Contact All American Assisted Living at Washington Township or schedule a tour to learn how our different lifestyle options help seniors stay fit, active, healthy, and well.