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How Lymphedema Affects Older Adults with Cancer

Lymphedema is a condition in which swelling occurs because lymph fluid does not drain properly. It is a common side effect of cancer treatment since it often occurs when lymph nodes are removed or damaged. This can lead to a blockage in the lymphatic system, so fluid builds up in tissues, making them swell. It’s an uncomfortable condition that can result in wounds that don’t heal well. Understanding lymphedema can help cancer caregivers better manage this side effect of cancer.

Home Care Service Naples FL - How Lymphedema Affects Older Adults with Cancer

Home Care Service Naples FL – How Lymphedema Affects Older Adults with Cancer

About Lymphedema

To understand lymphedema, you’ll first need to know a little about the lymphatic system. It’s part of the immune system. The lymphatic system sends lymph fluid through the body. As it circulates, the lymph fluid picks up bacteria, viruses, and other waste products. When the fluid reaches the lymph nodes, the lymphocytes there remove the wastes and help to flush them out of the body.

Lymphedema happens when the lymph vessels are unable to drain off lymph fluid. It can be a primary condition, which means it happens with no underlying cause. When it is a side effect of cancer treatment or cancer itself, it is considered secondary lymphedema. Sometimes a tumor may block a lymph node or vessel when it grows nearby. Other times, it may occur because a lymph node has been removed or damaged by treatments like radiation therapy.

Dealing with Lymphedema

There are several ways to prevent lymphedema from occurring during cancer treatment and to keep it from getting worse if it does happen. Some things you can do at home to help your aging relative are:

Protect Their Skin: When lymphedema occurs, the skin can be stretched and injure easily. To protect it, be sure the older adult uses moisturizers to keep skin from getting dry. Also, they should use sunscreen when going outside.

Exercise: Physical activity can help keep fluids moving through the body. Start by gently exercising the affected limb. Talk to the older adult’s doctor about kinds of exercise that are appropriate.

Compression: Talk to the senior’s doctor about compression garments that help fluids to circulate.

Home care services providers can assist older adults who are experiencing lymphedema. A home care services provider can help to apply moisturizer to the affected limbs, especially if the areas are hard to reach. Home care services can also help to exercise the limb by moving it gently or monitoring the older adult while they exercise to ensure they remain safe. And, if the doctor suggests using compression garments, the home care services provider can assist with putting them on.


If you or an aging loved one are considering Home Care Services in Naples FL, call the caring staff at Dial-a-Nurse today. Naples: (239) 307-0033. Ft. Myers: (239) 307-0065.

Ted Wolfendale

Administrator at Dial-a-Nurse
Mr. Wolfendale is a graduate of Stetson University, and Stetson University School of Law, and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1988. He is admitted to practice in the Middle district of Florida, is an active member of the Florida Health Law section, and Lee County Bar Association.

In 1995 he became Administrator of Dial-a-Nurse nursing agency, the oldest nursing agency in the Southwest Florida succeeding his mother who started the company 37 years ago. He is also President of Nevco, Inc., an educational healthcare training company begun in 1988.

Mr. Wolfendale has worked with the U.S. Department of Commerce on various Missions to improve the quality of life around the world by development of supportive healthcare programs. In 2005 he traveled with U.S. officials and addressed the Italian National Government assisting in the creation of Nurse Education mandates for that Country. In 2006 he was invited and spoke with the National Institutes of Continuing Education in Eastern Europe on healthcare education and developmental mandates, and most recently represented the United States at the European Union in Lake Balaton, Hungary in 2011. In 2014 he traveled with the U.S. Department of State to Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam in an effort to improve caregiver knowledge and training.

Mr. Wolfendale has worked with a number of non-profits in contributing and creating curriculum to improve the quality of life in third-world countries since 2001, and notably created a successful program in Odessa, India that has been modeled in other areas of the world. In his backyard, he has worked with local Goodwill Industries to provide curriculum and training to underserved individuals who have obtained employment as a result of educational training. He was the Congressional appointment to the Governor's purple ribbon task force in 2013, and has worked to educate caregivers in all aspects of Alzheimer's training.
Ted Wolfendale