Swelling of the ankles is something that many older adults experience. It is generally caused by a buildup of fluid that accumulates in the tissues of the lower leg. Swelling can be exacerbated when individuals consume too much sodium, sit or stand for long periods of time, or suffer from any number of underlying health conditions. While swollen ankles do not always point to a serious disease condition, it is a symptom that should not be ignored, especially if it recurs regularly. Here are some tips to decrease mild swelling: Raising the legs above the heart while laying on your back, exercise that involves the hips and legs, eat a low sodium diet, and using support or compression stockings.