Aging brings many physical and structural changes to your entire body, including your feet. Over time, bones lose their density and muscles lose strength and flexibility. Decades of wear and tear, not to mention exposure to infections, can lead to problems like bunions, arthritis, and fungal toenails, while health conditions associated with age (such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease) can have a significant impact on feet.
All that said, there’s no reason you can’t have healthy, happy feet at any age, and there are plenty of good reasons to engage in good senior foot care.
Why Senior Foot Care is So Important
Maintaining an active lifestyle later in life is hugely important in keeping you healthy and independent as you age. When your feet are hurting, and you take no action, it becomes more and more difficult to get the activity and exercise you need to maintain that quality of life.
Your feet are your foundation. They are crucial for nearly every activity from dawn to dusk. Take care of your feet, and they’ll take care of you by allowing you to walk, do chores or go shopping, enjoy hobbies, play with children or grandchildren, and remain independent in your own home as long as possible.
Finally, problems with your feet may be the first indicator of a more serious problem. For example, feet that are frequently swollen, numb, or tingling may suggest the development of diabetes, neuropathy, or peripheral arterial disease.
Handling Daily Hygiene
According to one popular idiom, cleanliness is next to godliness. That might be stretching it, but practicing good foot hygiene and nail care helps prevent fungal infections and other problems, and is especially important if you have diabetes.
Wash your feet thoroughly every day with mild soap and water, including between the toes. Then, make sure you dry just as thoroughly. Use moisturizer if necessary to fight cracking, fissured heels—just remember not to moisturize between the toes!
Make sure you change socks regularly (at least once per day) and rotate between 2-3 pairs of shoes, giving each at least 24 hours to dry out completely between uses. That will help keep them from becoming a home for bacteria and fungi.
Cut toenails straight across, not curved, and leave just little bit of length on them. That’ll help you prevent ingrown toenails (which can often be a precursor to a fungal nail infection).
Regular Foot Inspections
As with hygiene, regular foot inspections are especially critical if you have diabetes. But even if you are otherwise healthy, regular foot checks can help you detect a problem early so that you can address it successfully, before the pain becomes intolerable or surgery becomes necessary.
At least once a day, observe your feet carefully (use a mirror if you can’t see all of it yourself) and note any cuts, scrapes, bumps, redness, swelling, or other problems. If it persists, or you have any particular concerns, be safe and get it checked by a professional.
Staying Active and Healthy
Physical fitness is important at every age, but it might be most important for seniors. Foot problems that accumulate over a lifetime of wear and tear, such as arthritis, combine with age-related declines in bone density, balance, and more to put your feet at risk for pain.
Although time eventually slows us all down, you can still maintain health and work on your balance and fitness at any age. Eating a healthy diet, taking regular walks, and performing stretches and exercises as recommended by your doctor will help you keep your feet (and whole body!) in shape so you can maintain your independence and your quality of life.
Make an Appointment with Your Podiatrist
Prevention and proactive treatments are the best way to prevent or delay common foot problems in later life. Regular senior foot care checkups from a podiatrist are the best way to identify and address issues while they can still be treated through conservative measures.
The podiatrists at Family Foot and Ankle Center help patients of all ages throughout the Cincinnati area with their foot and ankle concerns. To schedule an appointment with one of them, give us a call today at 888-689-3317.