Foot Health and Ageing
As our feet grow older, they naturally become at risk for problems. But painful and uncomfortable feet are not a natural part of growing old, nor are they something you just have to 'put up with'.
A lot can be done to relieve pain, improve comfort and keep you on your feet for life.
Mirrors of Health
The condition of our feet often provides an early indicator for conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and circulatory disease. For this reason, the human foot is sometimes called a 'Mirror of Health'. Look out for signs of dry skin, brittle nails, burning or tingling sensations, coldness, numbness or discolouration. If you notice any of these occurring you should seek the advise of your podiatrist.
Foot Problems can be Prevented
As we age, our feet tend to spread and lose the fatty pads that cushion the bottom of the feet. If we are carrying extra weight, this can also affect the bone and ligament structure.
Many people, including older people believe its normal for feet to hurt, and simply resign themselves to enduring foot problems which could be treated. There are more than 300 different foot conditions, some are inherited, but for older people, most stem from the impact of years of use. But even amongst people in their retirement years, many foot problems can be successfully treated and the pain of foot conditions relieved.
Older people should have their feet measured for shoe size more frequently, rather than presuming that their shoe sizes remain constant.
Taking good care of your feet has many benefits including increasing your comfort, limiting the possibility of additional medical problems, reducing your chance of hospitalizations due to infections and keeping you active and mobile.
Mobility can be a problem for older people, yet with basic foot care, and prompt attention to any problems as they arise, staying on your feet shouldn't be a problem.
Podiatrists provide services designed to help keep older people on their feet, serving in people's homes, hospitals, community health centres and aged care facilities in addition to private clinics.
Foot Health Tips
Properly fitted shoes are essential. The older you get, the more you need a shoe that holds your foot firmly in place and gives adequate support - your old favourites as much as they are loved should be thrown out.
- A show with a firm sole and soft upper is best for daily activities
- Walking is a good general exercise for most peoples feet
- Pantyhose and stockings should be the correct size for your feet and preferably free of seams
- Except at the beach, avoid going barefoot, even when you are at home
- Do not wear tight garters as these can affect your circulation
- Never cut corns or calluses with a razor or knife, and don't use over the counter corn products as they can do more harm then good unless recommended to you by your podiatrist.
- Bath your feet daily in lukewarm (not hot) water, using a mild soap preferably one that contains moisturisers, alternatively use a moisturiser separately.
- Trim or file your toenails so they are slightly curved just short of the end of your toe
- Inspect your feet daily or have someone do this for you. If you notice any redness, cracks in the skin or sores, consult with your podiatrist
- Have your feet examined by a podiatrist at least once a year.
Keeping nails cut and under control will help keep you mobile. Yet a lot of elderly people find cutting toenails a problem, due to poor eyesight or difficulties in bending down.
If you can cut them yourself, make sure you cut them so they are slightly curved just short of the end of your toes, using a pair of nail clippers. After clipping, smooth nails with a file or emery board, using down ward strokes.
Your podiatrist will be able to cut, even heavily overgrown or thick nails painlessly and advise on appropriate self care options.