Providing proper care and attention to our feet is important for our continued health and comfort in older age for many reasons.
Properly caring for feet in a thorough and sufficient way can become difficult for seniors as they continue to age, so it is especially important that strategies and support systems be put into place that help seniors avoid harmful or uncomfortable conditions and diseases that can affect the health of their feet.
Feet and Overall Health
Our feet can tell us a lot about our bodies’ overall health, and remaining aware of changes and symptoms in our feet can sometimes even help to detect other health problems that are more widespread. Conditions such as arthritis, circulatory problems, and diabetes are often discovered through symptoms that have manifested in senior’s feet. It is for this reason, among others, that seniors should make sure their feet are getting enough attention and should see a healthcare professional whenever changes or concerns arise. Some things to look out for that may indicate greater health concerns include:
- Weak Nails
- Constant Feelings of Cold
- Dry Skin
Seniors and Their Feet
All the wear and tear that seniors’ feet have gone through over the course of their many years, paired with the changes that take place as natural parts of the aging process, leads elderly feet to be increasingly vulnerable, fragile, and susceptible to developing problems. With age, feet will often flatten out and lose some of the cushioning that was present at the bottom of the foot, while the health of bones, ligaments, skin, and nails also changes with age. The following are some concerns commonly faced by seniors:
- Heel Spurs
- Dry Skin
Maintaining Healthy Feet
Caring for feet in an appropriate and sufficient way is important for both maintenance and monitoring. There are numerous health-promoting choices that seniors can make that can help keep feet in better shape.
- Proper Footwear: Improper shoes and socks can lead to a whole host of issues for seniors and their feet. Seniors should make sure their shoes fit properly and that they wear socks that won’t irritate skin.
- Nail Care: Try to make sure nails are cut straight across so that ingrown toenails don’t occur.
- Use a Footstool: It can be beneficial for circulation to keep feet elevated when sitting, so seniors should have a footstool or ottoman accessible to them in their homes and should try to avoid sitting in positions that cut off circulation (such as sitting cross-legged).
- Clean, Warm, and Dry: Seniors should wash their feet on a regular basis in a gentle way, using mild soap and warm (rather than very hot) water. Washing should be followed by moisturizer or lotion. Feet should be dried thoroughly after washing to prevent bacterial or fungal infections.
- Inspect and Check: Inspecting feet regularly generates the opportunity to notice changes and causes of concern early and to have them checked by a qualified professional. Seniors need to be especially observant when visually inspecting their feet on a consistent basis, because the slowing of circulation that occurs with aging makes it so that they may be less able to physically feel changes or causes of discomfort in their feet that would otherwise suggest a possible concern.
- Get Moving: It is always advantageous to walk around and make sure feet get at least some level of exercise on a regular basis.
As seniors continue to age and begin to face changes in their mobility, more issues can come to light that make caring for their own feet a great deal more challenging. If this is the case, it can be helpful to access support from care providers like Retire-At-Home, who provide foot care to seniors in Ottawa. Caring for seniors’ feet is an important facet of caring for their overall health, wellbeing, and quality of life.