What do a marathon runner and your aging parent have in common? Both could benefit from compression socks! By applying pressure to the legs, compression socks help the valves in the veins do their work—so blood is pushed back to the heart and doesn’t pool in the legs. The socks also help keep lymph fluid moving. Older adults with edema (swollen legs), varicose veins, or deep vein thrombosis find that compression socks ease discomfort and can even prevent problems. This is especially true if your relative spends a lot of time sitting.
Compression socks are safe for the vast majority of older adults and are an underutilized option. Consider them for your loved one before a long plane flight or car trip. You can even find fun ones online if you include “fashionable” or “crazy” in your search.
If you wonder about your relative using them regularly, consult with the doctor first. You want to know the right compression and size. Also, these socks are not recommended for those with diabetes and persons with certain heart or vein conditions. For long-term use, ask the doctor for a prescription. This will allow for graduated compression socks to be professionally fitted to your loved one’s calf and ankle dimensions.
Tips for compression socks
- Follow the fitter’s directions. Ask for tips on getting the socks on and off.
- Have your family member wear them an hour or two each day to start. Increase time gradually.
- Get a refit if your loved one gains or loses 10 lbs.
- Hand wash and hang to dry.
- Replace the socks when they lose their stretch.
- Check your relative’s skin for dryness, chafing, irritation, redness, or dents.
Ensure your family member wears a clean pair each day so socks don’t stick to the skin and become difficult to remove.