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Compression Socks

I've never worn compression socks, but I'm thinking it might be a good idea to get some for my 83 year old uncle before we fly to Germany in a couple of weeks. Looking at them online I see there are different types. Can anyone help me figure out what to get? How much compression is enough, but not too much?

Posted by
1493 posts

Andrea, by the way, is this the same Uncle you spoke of last year? He is finally going to Germany? Wonderful!

Sure, pharmacies like Walgreen's, Rite-Aid, Walmart, etc. sell compression stockings. With that aside, yes, I think it is important your Uncle's doctor examine and prescribe which ones he could wear.

Here is an easy read up on them https://www.webmd.com/dvt/choose-compression-stockings#1

They also have different levels of pressure, measured in mm Hg. Stockings should feel snug, but not painfully tight. Mild compression, with lower numbers, is usually enough to keep you comfortable on your feet at work. You'll need higher numbers with a firmer fit to prevent DVT.

Good luck!

Posted by
7601 posts

Thanks to both of you for your logical suggestions to check with his doctor. I have just sent the doctor an email.

Yes, this is the same uncle. It was fortunate that he didn't travel last year, because I didn't know he was having problems. I have since moved him near me and I will be sticking to him like glue. He has forgotten he is afraid to fly. We will have a special week in Germany with his children and toddler twin grandchildren. He may not remember the trip (though he does remember we are going and is looking forward to it), but his daughters will.

Posted by
1493 posts

Aww gee Andrea, that is great! I hope your Uncle enjoys his family and the trip with you! It is good you were able to move him closer.

Posted by
454 posts

Andrea,

I always wear compression socks when flying to Europe. I am 50 and in good health. I wear them because, over the past few years, I have noticed that my ankles tend to swell a bit by the time I land. I got my socks from TJ Max in the travel section. They are black and I wear them under long pants - nobody notices. They just provide a little pressure (not tight) to make sure the blood is being slightly pushed up the legs instead of pooling which can, of course, lead to blood clots. I always tried to drink more fluids than usual the week leading up to my flight to make sure I am not flying dehydrated which makes blood thicker. I see lots of older people on flights that are not wearing compression socks. I say wear them! just make sure they are the right size and fit for him - they should not feel tight just a slight hug. I wish more people would wear them and realize that DVT's can and do happen and are serious. (my mother-in-law just go one this week. She is 70 and had swelling and a lot of pain in her leg before she decided to see a doctor). Check his legs when he gets to Germany and keep them elevated if there is swelling. I have a minimal medical background but I fly a lot to Europe and this is my routine for flights.

Have a great trip to Germany.

Margaret

Posted by
5645 posts

Our doctor advised us to buy compression socks ,at the lowest number of compression , for or long haul flights.No more swollen ankles at the end of our flights.

Posted by
3283 posts

I think all the suggestions have been excellent. However, I'm thinking he might be checking with his doctor before he leaves just to make sure every health concerns/medications has been taken care of? If that's the case, I'd ask for his dr's recommendation on the compression socks. I think they are a good idea for most, but especially for someone his age. Andrea, I wish you a wonderful trip and it is very dear of you to be assisting in making memories for your family.

Posted by
7601 posts

Thanks for the socks information. I'm waiting to hear back from the doctor.

Jules - I have already discussed the trip with his doctor a few weeks ago and he doesn't see any problem with it. The doctor even prescribed something to help him relax on the flight. I just thought about compression socks a couple of days ago. I've never used them myself, but I'm not getting any younger so it might be a good idea for me as well.

Posted by
5288 posts

Local medical supply store ? They were helpful in finding the correct size/strength compression sleeve to avoid lymphedema while flying.

Posted by
3283 posts

Maybe call the doctor's staff and ask for a message to go to the doctor. The doctor might have a specific suggestion based on the patient's needs and history.

Posted by
4964 posts

Stores that sell nurses' scrubs and supplies sell them and should have a large variety. But you can also find some at Walmart, if you look hard enough.

Posted by
649 posts

For the Budget Minded (that would include me) - I like Dickies Dri-Tech Performance Work Socks. They have "Arch and Ankle Compression", a "mesh ventilation channel", and they are made of "moisture control fibers". I've worn them all over Europe - they dry quickly....and the best part.....$8.77 for 5 pairs at Walmart.

Posted by
7601 posts

Thank you all for your advice. I just wanted to follow up and report that I heard back from my uncle's doctor and he thinks it wouldn't be a bad idea for him to wear some compression socks. It's going on my shopping list.

Posted by
3230 posts

It would also be a good idea to have uncle wear them around home a couple times before the trip, just to check the fit and comfort level.

When my doctor prescribed compression socks, he measured me and gave a size and compression strength suggestion. Unfortunately, they were too tight and caused me severe pain when worn if I could even get them on! Ended up with a much larger size and a much lower compression and have been happy with those.

Posted by
7601 posts

Mark, that's a great suggestion that I wouldn't have thought of. Thanks.

Posted by
380 posts

Definitely have him try them on before going. They do not slide on as easy as regular socks so you need to make sure they are not too tight. My mom had bought a pair from Amazon to wear for our trip to London last year and they were too tight, she ended up not wearing them. I tried them on after we returned and they were even way too tight for me, not sure what compression strength she got. I've been wearing them while flying since I flew to Germany while 4 1/2 months pregnant. I've always done "leg exercises" just to keep things flowing but the compression socks just make my legs feel rested and relaxed by the time we land and there was never any swelling.

Have a great time!

Posted by
3252 posts

I've been wearing compression socks for years on doctor's orders.

My go-to brand is Sockwell Circulator. I like the graduated compression ones like these for women. The compression is
15-20 mmHg and "helps to minimize swelling and reduce fatigue. Energizes legs and feet. Soothes and energizes tired feet and legs. Relieves minor to moderate varicose veins."

The fiber content, "32% Merino Wool, 31% Rayon from Bamboo, 32% Stretch Nylon, 5% Spandex," works for me in all kinds of weather.

The men's version aren't quite so much fun, but they also don't look so athletic as most brands.

As others have said, any compression sock is a challenge to get on and off.

Posted by
622 posts

I wear the Sockwell socks that Lo linked to above. About four years ago I ordered a couple of pairs to wear on my flights to/from the UK. I ordered them a couple of months ahead of the trip, and loved them so much that I ordered more. Ever since, those have been my go-to socks (I have them in plain black), and I have about six pair, enough for daily wear without fussing with extra laundry.

My original bunch of those socks stood up to daily wearing for literally years. I'm now on my second batch. Not cheap, but my legs can tell the difference when I don't wear them. I live at high altitude, and depending on what's happening I may spend days at a desk. The socks provide enough support to prevent swelling.

I was prepared for the socks to be hot - but they aren't! I think the fabric "breathes" and they are comfortable even in warm weather. I make sure to wear them on road trips as well as airline trips. Also, I don't baby those socks. They get washed in a regular load in warm water and dried in the dryer on a moderate-to-low heat setting.

Whatever compression socks you choose, I think it's critical to put them on and wear them in advance of your trip. Getting them on can be an issue, and I've seen that doctors' choice of socks isn't infallible. (My cousin was prescribed a certain kind of compression sock, and he said those things nearly cut off his circulation once he managed to get them on! I think his wife had to cut them to get them off. Yikes.)

Posted by
140 posts

We swear by our compression socks. In fact, for many long, cool days (we travel in March and October mostly), we wear them under jeans to help keep our legs comfortable and feet from swelling. A lot of 83 year olds are like we are. Buy the socks! Also, once you have them, I strongly suggest checking YouTube for 'how to put on compression socks'. You can't really pull them up like regular socks. There are several techniques. Some work better than others. Depending on the quality/weight of socks and your uncle's flexibility, you may have to help him get them on.

Posted by
1140 posts

I'm glad wanderlust mentions the issue of getting compression socks on - it's also worth mentioning the trouble getting them off.
I recently gave in to the peer pressure here on the forum, combined with a sale at Cloudline, to try a pair and was more than a little dismayed at how hard these socks are to take off.
It even had me thinking that if I had any chance of using a shower during a layover on a long flight, I might not want to be wearing compression socks because I would have to allow for the extra time and effort of getting them off and back on in the lounge facilities...

Posted by
7601 posts

We returned from our trip a month ago. I bought compression socks for both my uncle and myself at Walmart. They weren't too tight and we had no problem taking them on and off.

For those of you who know the background with my uncle I want to report that the trip went very well. He didn't get anxious flying at all. It was the perfect week. My cousins rented a 5 bedroom villa in Unkel that was big enough for the 7 of us. It was close to the town center and easy to walk to the river. A wonderful time was had by all.

Posted by
1845 posts

Andrea, I had been following your adventures with your Uncle and am thrilled you have come back to report what a perfect trip you had with him. That's truly wonderful to hear. I know you were concerned. And for Lo: I bought some of the Sockwell socks you recommended and they are terrific. Easy to get on and off and still providing plenty of comfort and support for those long haul flights! Thanks for the recommendation.

Posted by
3230 posts

Andrea,

That is wonderful! Glad things went so well for you and Uncle on the trip.