How To Effectively Manage Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
Peripheral artery disease in the elderly
Peripheral artery disease, abbreviated as PAD. This is a chronic ailment. Characterized by pain along with weakness in the lower extremities while walking. This practically occurs due to atherosclerosis. Which causes improper or abnormal blood flow to the limbs, due to the narrowing of the arteries. It is a common concern among the elderly population, demanding proper treatment. Dealing with this day out and being careful not to irritate the condition any further can cause strain on you, as the caregiver.
Understanding peripheral artery disease in the elderly
Peripheral artery disease is a common problem for your loved one. Which primarily occurs due to improper blood flow to the lower extremities. Often, the symptoms of PAD are often mistaken for usual pain and weakness in the legs due to advancing age. As a result, if untreated, it can become a major cause of gangrene and limb amputation.
Your loved one with peripheral artery disease needs to be extremely vigilant about their feet. Living with PAD poses several risks for developing foot ulcers and wounds, which are very difficult to treat. The improper blood flow to the lower extremities causes the poor oxygen flow to the affected areas. This makes wound healing very difficult.
Risk factors for PAD
Also to atherosclerosis, there are several other risk factors that contribute to the development of PAD. Your loved one is at increased risk of suffering from PAD if he/she has the following:
A longstanding history of smoking
Chronic degenerative diseases: diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and obesity
A history of heart disease in the family
Exceptionally high levels of C – reactive protein
Overseeing this can cause you to stress because you can’t be in 2 places at one time: taking care of your business and taking care of your loved one. Look into hiring some help. This will give you the opportunity to get some rest and also make sure your loved one is properly cared for. Or maybe you want to spend more time with your loved one while taking a break from some of the redundant business tasks like sending out emails, returning calls, or organizing files. Let’s chat about how I can be of service to you so you can take care of your business and your loved one.
Not everyone with PAD will produce symptoms. And only 50% of the elderly suffering from PAD will exhibit symptoms.
Peripheral artery disease causes intermittent claudication. Pain as well as the weakness that occurs with walking and subsides when your loved one rests. The symptoms of claudication include. Pain along with cramps in the legs. Long periods of walking or extended periods of physical activity trigger it.
As a caregiver, it becomes extremely important that you understand and acknowledge the various signs and symptoms of PAD. Having proper knowledge will enable you to take your elderly to the doctor at the right time. And prevent complications from occurring.
The thigh and calf muscles hurt the most. There is pain after activities such as climbing stairs or walking.
Numbness along with weakness in the legs.
The color of the legs change
There is a change in temperature of the legs; the lower part is colder as compared to the other areas
Toenail growth is slow
Toenails become brittle and break easily
Slower pulse rate in the leg
The skin of the legs becomes shiny and appears to be thinner
Wounds and sores on your feet and toes do not heal
There is a slower growth of hair on the legs or there is a loss of hair
All the above-mentioned symptoms show that your loved one is fighting peripheral artery disease. However, if you fail to recognize these symptoms. And ward them off as a common old-age problem. Then you are only putting your loved one at an increased risk of developing severe complications. The disease progresses to a more advanced stage due to not getting treatment. Then the pain in the legs would occur even when your loved one is resting. Gradually the pain may become so severe, that it would disrupt your loved one’s sleep.
Tips to take care of your loved ones with peripheral artery disease
Living with PAD can be difficult if the condition is not diagnosed at the preliminary stage. There is an increase in leg pain, making matters worse for your loved one. However, to ease the pain and to make your loved one comfortable, you can take the following steps.
Exercise is actually considered as the cornerstone for the treatment of PAD. And it has shown to improve the peripheral circulation, cardiopulmonary function, walking capacity, as well as the functional capacity. This is one of the best ways to relieve pain and combat the symptoms of PAD.
A change in the dietary pattern appears to be a must for elderly patients with PAD. This is because, elderly with PAD have high cholesterol levels and also suffer from hypertension. As a result, it becomes necessary to limit the saturated fat intake and also limiting the salt intake becomes mandatory.
Medications are usually prescribed for treating high cholesterol levels. For this, statins are the best take and anti-hypertensive drugs are also given to keep the blood pressure levels under check. In addition, to improve the walking capacity and make the experience pain free, doctors also recommend ramipril or cilostazol.
A longstanding history of smoking is considered to be one of the worst risk factors for developing PAD. Therefore, as caregivers, you need to ask your elderly loved ones to quit smoking. Once your elderly stop smoking, it will slowly arrest the disease progression and also help in improving the symptoms.
PAD has some serious consequences on your loved one’s feet. The skin on your loved one’s feet becomes very thin and shiny. Furthermore, having
poor blood flow and less oxygen supply
Chances of developing sores
Wounds increases to a great extent
As a result, wound healing becomes very difficult. And therefore, your loved one needs to be extra careful about their feet’ health. Here are certain tips, that would help you take good care of your elderly’s feet.
Tips and suggestions
Keep feet clean
Help your loved one to wash their feet regularly with warm water and soap. Practicing proper hygiene will help decrease the number of bacteria on the foot.
Massage and moisturizer
This will help feet feel better and will prevent dryness and cracked feet.
Wear proper-fitting socks and shoes
Make sure you choose the right kind of socks and shoes for your loved ones. Poor-fitting shoes can become a major problem for your loved one. Choose the ones that fit comfortably and comfortable to walk in them.
Proper wound care
You also need to be vigilant about the wounds and sores that develop. Treat them promptly and seek help from a medical practitioner.
Caution with pedicures
You also need to be extra careful while cutting the toenails of your loved ones. Improper trimming of the toenails can call for trouble and can cause bacterial infections.
Never go barefoot
Do not allow your loved one to roam around barefoot. This offers no protection against household hazards or foot infections.
Seek a podiatrist
· If you find your loved one suffering from foot problems. It is best to seek medical help for complete recovery. Some of these problems are:
All the above-mentioned tips are sure to make life a lot easier for your loved ones. As we age our legs and feet get tired and we lose the elasticity and collagen that support our feet. Your feet can also indicate major problems, so listen to your feet and keep proper care of them. It can be difficult to attend to your loved one with P.A.D, but it’s not impossible. With the right knowledge, you can do this. Don’t forget about taking care of yourself and keeping your business going while you are caregiving. I’m here to assist you on this journey, schedule your planning session with me so we can look at how to keep your life and your business running smoothly. Also, check out this post on foot care.