The foot is a complex structure consisting of 26 bones and 33 joints, layered with more than 120 nerves, muscles and ligaments. Our feet are made to support our weight and act as a shock absorber. In comparison, our feet are a lot smaller than our body. Each step that we take exerts a lot of force with it.
As we get older, the health of our feet is a topic that should be addressed more often. When it comes to senior foot care, one important component is the prevention of certain conditions that can develop into issues down the road. Of course, there are some issues of the feet that unfortunately cannot be prevented. It is important with these types of foot health issues, that treatment is given at the earliest sign possible.
By the time an American reaches 50 years old, on average, they have walked a total of 75,000 miles. For this reason, it makes sense why seniors suffer with foot disorders that are often painful. When a senior suffers with foot pain, they are less likely to be mobile.
Let’s discuss what some of the common issues for senior feet and how we can help our senior loved ones with preventing and treating various ailments.
What are some common senior feet issues?
Fungal toenail infections is an infection that occurs in the toenails and it is a common condition. This fungus often begins as a yellow or white spot under the tip of the toenail. As the fungal infection goes deeper, the actual toenail may begin to discolor, thicken and even crumble at the edge. It is important you or a loved one see a doctor if you have diabetes and think you are developing nail fungus.
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that normally begins between the toes. This condition often occurs in people who may have feet that are sweaty while confined in a tight fitting shoe. Athlete’s foot normally includes a scaly rash that itches, stings and burns. Athlete’s foot is contagious and can spread, but it can be treated with over-the-counter anti-fungal medications.
Dry skin is an uncomfortable condition that often has scaling, itching and cracking. The skin can be a “mirror” of what is going on in the body. Wearing shoes without socks can dry out the feet depending on the shoe material. In many situations, our shoes that we wear can protect our feet from dry skin if they fit correctly and are made of breathable material.
Plantar Fasciitis is a painful condition. The plantar fascia is a long ligament that runs on the sole of your feet and it supports your arch. Repeated stress, like jogging or walking around without shoes, can cause pain and stiffness. There are calf muscle stretches that can help manage this.
Bunions are painful bony lumps that grow along the inside of your feet at the joint were your big toe meets your foot. Bunions will grow slowly as the big toe angles inward. Narrow, tight shoes will worsen bunions. Special pads, icing and wearing the right shoes will help in these situations.
Morton’s Neuroma is a common foot condition that as many as one in three people have. The symptoms of this can include pain in the front part of your foot or a sensation like you are walking on a marble or rock. With severe pain, your healthcare professional may suggest steroid shots or surgery. Often, switching footwear, shoe pads and a massage may help.
How can I prevent these issues with senior feet?
As you or a loved one ages, it is important to take the necessary steps to lower the risk for these conditions of senior feet. Some of the best tips to help your feet and those who you may care for includes:
Nourish the body well with proper nutrients in order to keep the muscles, skin, nail tissues and the bones nourished.
Keep feet dry in order to avoid fungal infections. It is a wise plan to have a spare of clean, dry socks ready to switch if feet become sweaty or wet. It is smart to wear shoes that are made with breathable material.
Reduce weight in order to reduce the stress and the pressure your feet have with excessive weight.
Wear proper footwear that cradles the heel and allows your toes to wiggle. Many people over the age of 65 wear shoes that are too small. Avoid shoes that put pressure on the feet. Have your senior loved one get their feet measured so that they are wearing shoes that won’t give them calluses, corns or bunions.
Trim toenails to a length that is not too long and not too short. The toenail should be trimmed straight across, evenly with the top of the toe. If you have diabetes, seek professional help with properly trimming your toenails.
Senior Foot Care in Washington
If you’re someone who has a friend or family member showing signs of foot health issues, there are two things you need to know.
First, there is treatment! In Washington alone, there are hundreds of podiatrists who can provide the treatment needed for any existing foot or ankle problems that cause pain or interfere with regular tasks. At the same time, MyAFH is here to provide you the support, resources, and guidance you need as you walk through this common issue. We’re in this together!
Second, there is information! Issues of the feet should not be an afterthought. Research information online about addressing foot conditions and be proactive in the long-term health of feet. It is important to ensure that you and your senior loved ones keep moving.
How can I learn more about senior foot health?
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