Over the course of our lives our feet are taxed with the heavy burden of supporting our entire body weight and taking us wherever we need to go. When you think about the number of steps the average person takes in their life, it is no wonder that our feet are worn out by the time we hit the age of 60.
As we get older, our feet gradually flatten out and become wider as the fatty padding on the bottoms of our feet progressively wears down. This leaves the bones and joints in our feet more vulnerable to deterioration and damage which can result in chronic foot pain.
Why Is Footcare So Important For Seniors?
Maintaining a good level of foot health is essential for sustaining an independent lifestyle and avoiding illness and injury.
As the feet slowly lose their natural padding over time, the skin also becomes thinner and loses its elasticity. This has the effect of the feet becoming more susceptible to a wide range of pains and ailments. Some foot problems that threaten mobility and independence include:
- Corns and callouses
- Dry skin
- Heel pain
Bunions generally appear as bony bumps on the big toe joint that can be very painful to walk on. Bunions develop slowly and cause undue pressure on the big toe, pushing it towards the second toe. Foot strengthening exercises and comfortable footwear that is not too tight helps prevent bunions.
Corns And Callouses
These foot maladies develop as the body’s response to sensitive areas on the foot that have become tender due to excessive friction or rubbing from something like shoes that do not fit properly. They form as thick patches of dead skin that often dry out and may crack and become painful.
Extremely dry skin on the feet is a common problem for seniors that can cause mobility issues if not attended to. Regular moisturizing after feet are thoroughly cleaned, rinsed, and dried can help prevent this problem.
Diminished foot padding can result in heel bruising or bone spurs that develop on the heel bone making it troublesome to walk. Plantar Fasciitis is also common in seniors which an inflammation of the ligament that runs along the bottom of the foot connecting the heel bone to the toes.
The growth of fungus and ingrown toenails can lead to infections in the foot. Keeping feet clean and dry helps prevent fungal infections. For seniors with inhibited flexibility, home caregivers can assist with footcare practices like toenail trimming.
The makeup of the foot is incredibly complex consisting of 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 muscles, ligaments, and tendons. This makes the foot extremely susceptible to osteoarthritis.
Increased Risk Of Falls
Chronic foot problems can jeopardize an independent lifestyle and they can also increase the risk of injury from falls. The loss of strength, flexibility, and balance all contribute to greater hazard of sustaining a serious injury from falling. Regular exercises and stretching can help keep the feet limber and sturdy.
Tips For Seniors To Promote Mobility And Independence
There are many daily life practices that can help older adults maintain good foot health allowing for enhanced autonomy and freedom of movement. Some helpful footcare recommendations include:
- Clean feet daily and dry well (especially between the toes)
- Moisturize feet after cleaning to prevent dry, cracked skin
- Proper hygiene and nail trimming
- Always wear well-fitting, comfortable shoes
- Perform regular checks for sores and blemishes
- Get regular exercise to keep feet strong and promote good blood flow
- Address any foot pain immediately
- Enlist the services of professional home caregivers for footcare information, assistance, and support