The Importance of Foot Care in the Elderly [Plus Tips For Keeping Feet Healthy]

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Healthy feet are important for walking. Walking is the key to independence and being able to care for yourself. So, it is very important for the elderly to take care of their feet.

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As we age, we are likely going to experience a lot of foot problems. Note that, with time, your feet lose cushioning. The nails and skin become dry and brittle. On the other hand, seniors have reduced blood flow resulting in delays in the proper healing of any sores on their feet. Well, if you are growing older, or are taking care of an elderly person, here are some useful tips to help you take proper care of their feet.

This article is part of my “Importance of Elders” series that features 50+ articles on keeping seniors and the elderly happy and healthy so that we can have them in our lives longer. See the entire series here.

How Does Getting Older Change Your Feet?

As we grow older, the following changes are likely going to happen to our feet.

  1. Feet will become bigger since they grow along with our bodies. The wear and tear of supporting your body weight cause your feet to become flat, wider and longer. That’s because the ligaments and tendons become less elastic.
  2. You are likely going to lose range of motion thereby resulting in stiffness and less flexibility. As you grow older, it’s important to keep your feet healthy and strong to improve overall balance and reduce falls.
  3. Your feet are prone to swelling due to hormonal changes, heart disease, medications, reduced activity and problems with circulations.
  4. You are likely going to experience dry and itchy feet as you grow older since there’s less turnover of your skin due to less collagen. As such, you might experience calluses, rash and cracked heels.
  5. Thicker toenails because as you grow older, they will grow slower due to age-related hormonal changes. With slower growth, you will experience thicker and brittle nails that are hard to cut.
Why Is Foot Care Important For Elderly People?

Foot care is important for seniors, because if not checked, most of these foot problems are likely to get worse very fast and cause more dangerous issues such as infections or falls. Many medical issues cause the feet to swell and become painful. Infections, falls, and foot pain and swelling can all result in seniors and the elderly losing the ability to walk – either partially or completely.

Some of the reasons why seniors commonly experience foot problems include the following.

  • Many years of working, walking and healing from injuries.
  • Wearing uncomfortable, too small or low-quality shoes.
  • Poor blood circulation in the feet.
  • Difficulty trimming toenails due to impaired mobility or vision.
  • Increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, gout and other illnesses that cause foot problems including loss of sensitivity.

Quick Foot Care Tips for Seniors and the Elderly

If you are taking care of an elderly person, you need to help them avoid these issues by taking care of their feet in any of the following ways.

1. Keep Feet Clean

It’s easy enough for seniors to forget to wash their feet. First, they have a hard time reaching their feet and when they do, they might not reach all the right areas. If you are taking care of an elderly person, you need to keep their feet clean by washing them regularly.

Without proper foot hygiene, elderly people are likely going to develop viral, fungal and bacterial infections. You can wash their feet outside the shower or baths by introducing regular wipe-downs with warm water, a washcloth and soap. Even better, you should wash their feet at night to improve their sleep quality effortlessly.

2. Keep Feet Moisturized

With elderly feet, if the skin is left dry, it will start flaking, cracking and breaking. As such, you need to help your elderly loved ones with proper moisturizing of their feet as often as possible. It is very helpful when it comes to preventing open foot sores.

Make sure you apply any foot lotions after you have wiped their feet thoroughly after proper washing. As such, it’s easy to lock in the moisture and keep the skin soft and supple. Make sure you cover the feet using cotton socks to guarantee ultimate comfort and warmth.

3. Keep Nails Trimmed

If you are taking care of an elderly person and their toenails are overgrown, it might result in a lot of pain and poor walking. You can trim their nails or look for a nail salon that works specifically with senior feet. You can also visit a podiatrist who offers these specific services especially for seniors who suffer conditions that affect their feet such as diabetes.

You read more foot care tips for seniors in this guide.

Final Thoughts

If you want your senior loved ones to spend as much time as possible on their feet, make sure you help them take care of them. Use the tips mentioned above to understand more about elderly feet and the right way to take care of them to avoid further issues.

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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