Proper Foot Care means continued independence!
The independence that comes along with continued mobility in older age is dependent on numerous factors that are determined by the individual circumstances of each senior, but among the primary contributors to our ability to continue to move and walk comfortably is the health of our feet. Attending to one’s own feet in a way that affords the right amount of monitoring and care can become challenging for seniors as they grow older, so it is especially important that strategies and support systems be put in place that seek to help seniors avoid uncomfortable or harmful conditions and diseases that can come to affect their feet.
Feet and Overall Health
Our feet can tell us a lot about our bodies’ overall state of health, and paying attention to changes and symptoms present in the feet can sometimes even help to detect other pervasive health problems. Conditions such as arthritis, circulatory problems, and diabetes are often explored and discovered through symptoms that have manifested in senior’s feet. It is for this reason, among others, that seniors should ensure their feet are receiving ample attention and should seek council with a healthcare professional whenever changes or concerns begin to present themselves. Some things to look out for that may indicate greater health concerns include:
- Constant Feelings of Cold
- Dry Skin
- Weak Nails
Seniors and Their Feet
The accumulation of wear and tear that seniors’ feet have sustained throughout the duration of their many years, coupled with the changes that occur 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
Providing sufficient care to our feet is essential for both maintenance and monitoring. There are numerous health-promoting choices that seniors can make that can help keep feet in better shape.
- 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.
- Get Moving: It is always advantageous to walk around and make sure feet get at least some level of exercise on a regular basis.
- 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.
- Nail Care: Try to make sure nails are cut straight across so that ingrown toenails don’t occur.
- Proper Footwear: Improper shoes and socks can lead to numerous issues for seniors and their feet. Seniors should make sure their shoes fit properly and that they wear socks that won’t irritate skin.
- 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).
As seniors grow older and begin to navigate changes to their mobility, more barriers can arise that make attending to their own feet significantly more challenging. If this is the case, it can be beneficial to access support from care providers like Retire-At-Home, who provide foot care to seniors in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge. Caring for seniors’ feet is an important aspect of attending to their overall health, wellbeing, and quality of life.