When your feet are in pain, it might feel like everything in life hurts. Sadly, foot issues are common issues for seniors. This happens because of poor circulation, skin, and nails that get dry and brittle, and less cushioning.
Yet, having healthy ankles and feet are still important as a mode of independence and transportation in old age. Seniors need healthy feet for driving, walking with grandkids, and doing errands.
Keep reading to learn 6 common foot issues seniors face, what to do about them, and 5 home foot care tips for seniors and their caregivers.
Video Guide: Foot Care Tips for Seniors
6 Issues And Answers Seniors Should Know About Their Feet
1. Athlete’s Foot
This fungal infection hits anyone, not just athletes. It lives in spaces that are dark, moist, and warm, and feet can fit the bill. Blast your feet with a spray or powder if you notice itching, peeling, redness, or blisters.
Clean, dry feet help out, as does going barefoot, but that can be risky when you have circulation issues or diabetes.
2. Calluses And Corns
Wearing shoes that fit right is great prevention for these, but if you do get them, use a callus file or pumice stone to gently pare them down. Non-medicated pads and/or moleskin can also help.
You’ll see medical corn-removing solutions for sale in drugstores, but keep in mind that they eat up healthy skin and cause you even more foot pain.
When you have this, and many seniors are at high risk for it, even the smallest issue can turn into a huge health risk. This disease can hurt any blood vessels feeding your feet, slowing down healing and even risking gangrene. Simple blisters or corns can wind up threatening your life, and you might face an amputation.
Diabetes, unfortunately, deadens nerves in feet, which means it’s easy to miss minor wounds that fester. Daily foot examinations by yourself or others are crucial.
4. Heel Spurs
When you put excess pressure on your poor feet, then you can wind up having calcium deposits forming on your heels. These will create a lot of pain for you, and they can happen from unsupportive shoes, standing up too long, or just being overweight. Get relief with heel cups, heel pads, or other kinds of support.
When toes don’t have room for movement, its knuckle might swell and even draw back the toe. Hammertoes are worrisome for anyone, but seniors in particular, since they can negatively influence balance and boost the odds of falls. The simple remedy is wearing socks and shoes which provide ample space for your toes.
6. Ingrown Toenails
If you see anything that looks infected, consult your doctor as quickly as you can. Antibiotic creams and warm soaks are also helpful.
5 Home Foot Care Tips For Seniors
1. Proper Footwear
Nothing is more crucial than making sure your feet have the very best shoes for you. Measure your feet for an ideal fit, and focus more on comfort and cushioning over fashion. Put on slippers or something soft anytime you can, as you should avoid walking around inside barefoot, as to avoid accidents.
2. Mind Your Weight, Cramps, And Diet
If you have foot cramps regularly, it might be indicative of low levels of magnesium, sodium, or potassium in your blood. You can get tested for this and even experiment with high-mineral diets, by eating things like dark greens, potatoes, avocados, and bananas.
Also, try and lose weight if it’s too high. When you weigh too much, you might be relying too much on your tendons for maintaining your balance, which puts more pressure on your whole foot.
3. Keep Your Feet Dry, Warm, And Clean
You should pamper your feet. Wash them using a mild soap in lukewarm water daily. Find a good shower foot scrubber to smooth down dry and cracked patches. Vitamin E cream is great for lasting hydration, and don’t put socks on feet that aren’t totally dry. Bacteria loves damp places, but get socks on when you are dry, since warmth promotes circulation.
4. Keep Short Toenails
Soaking your feet is a great thing to do before you cut your nails, since they’ll be softer and easier to trim. Use good nail clippers and make your cuts straight across, being mindful of sharp corners that could get ingrown.
5. Keep Your Circulation Flowing
Do you like putting your feet up while you’re sitting down? That’s good news, because it helps promote circulation in your feet. Swimming and yoga (even wheelchair yoga) are even better if you do them regularly.
As with anything medical, always consult your physician before starting any new health practice or habit. For that matter, the best thing you can do for your feet in your golden years is involving others when you need too.
Nail salons can care for your feet in a lot more ways than you can think, and it’s usually surprisingly pleasurable too. Let caregivers, friends, and family look closely at your feet from many angles you either can’t do or do easily.
Also, if these various treatment suggestions aren’t effective enough, see a nurse or doctor about persistent issues.
Your general practitioner should always be the first person to diagnose any issue and prescribe treatment. This article and these foot care tips for seniors are not a substitute for individual health care at the hands of a trusted professional.
It’s important to keep your feet healthy in your golden years so they can keep you moving, whether it’s getting around your home, taking cruises around the world, keeping up with your family, or even hiking and walking. Make it a group effort.
On top of your own hard work, find the right doctor, ask those around you to help with feet inspections, try out nail salons, and possibly most importantly, find the right place to get great shoes to take care of your feet every minute of every day.
Sources and Further Reading:
- National Institutes of Health
- Beuscher TL. “Home Health Nurse” Jan. 16 1998
- Erika Dillman (Warner Books) “The Little Foot Care Book”