Senior Safety: Sitting Too Long Can be Hazardous to Your HealthBy Jill Poser September 20, 2012 | 10:00 AMPosted in: Senior Safety, Family
As a family, we had
the great fortune of growing up having a summer home in upstate New York. Since my folks moved to south Florida, a
dozen years to be exact, they left for the summer in mid to late June. The routine was always the same. They drove to Orlando, got on the auto train
and got off in Washington D.C. They drove from Washington D.C. to Rock Hill,
New York and their summer begins! This
summer was different. My parents sold
their home during the winter months and decided they would travel which meant a
good deal of driving. My Dad has not
been well and he could not share the driving.
This clearly meant that all the driving fell on my Mom. We all discussed it and she felt it would be
okay; she would manage it. To ensure their personal
safety, my folks know that they need to stop along the way,
take water breaks, walk around, stretch their legs, eat healthy meals and end
the day before they are too tired.
They were having a
wonderful adventure for sure. Only this
adventure included two thousand two hundred miles that my Mom actually drove
herself. While they were away my Mom
mentioned that her legs were bothering her and by the time they came home her
legs were quite swollen. In fact, her
left calf had a considerable bulge and was sensitive to the touch. She didn’t
need to use her medical alert
system, but she immediately visited with her primary care physician
who advised her it appears she may have what is known as ‘Lymphedema.’ He referred her directly to a licensed
Lymphedema Therapist just in time. It
was caught in the early stages and with therapy and self-care
she will have a complete recovery.
what is lymphedema? Simply, it is a
collection of fluid that causes swelling, known as edema, in the arms and legs.
There are different causes of lymphedema. Normally, lymph nodes filter fluid as
it flows through them, trapping bacteria, viruses, and other foreign
substances, which are then destroyed by special white blood cells called
lymphocytes. Without normal lymph
drainage, fluid can build up in the affected arm or leg, and lymphedema can
develop. Symptomatically, it can include feeling as though your clothes,
wristwatches, rings or bracelets are too tight; your arms or legs may feel
full; and less flexibility in your wrists, hands, and ankles.
my Mom, sitting too long proved very harmful. More and more scientists warn
that sitting for prolonged periods – more than four hours at a time-even if you
also exercise regularly - could be bad for your health. It does not matter
where the sitting occurs - at the office, at school or in the car, just the
overall number of hours it occurs.
The treatment for lymphedema depends on its cause and includes wearing
compression garments such as stockings or sleeves, proper diet and skin care,
and fluid drainage. It is recommended that elevating an arm or leg that has
swelling can help ease the drainage of lymph fluid from the affected limb. Rest a swollen arm or leg on a comfortable
surface, above the level of your heart as much as possible. Do not put pressure
on your armpit or groin area. Do not hold a limb up without support for very
long. This can increase swelling. Gentle exercise can help reduce swelling. The
use of muscles during exercise naturally helps lymph fluid to circulate, which
can reduce swelling. But exercise also increases blood flow to the muscles
being used, which can increase the amount of lymph fluid present. If you have
swelling, it is important to properly bandage an affected limb before
exercising. Ask your doctor how to use a bandage for this purpose and what
exercises are appropriate for your condition.
Each case is different so you want to be certain to consult with your
physician. Remember, it is best to be safe, not sorry.
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