Caring for your feet as you age

Caring for your feet as you age

Male feet on over the other isolated towards white

An average, healthy person takes 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day. That means that by age of 70, the average person will have walked the equivalent of four times around the globe!
As we age, it is normal to experience some problems with our feet. Poor circulation, dry skin and nails and just the general wear and tear that comes from years of use can contribute to foot pain. However, you can avoid or lessen the effects of many of these foot problems with awareness and care.
Shoes that don’t fit well are the cause of many foot problems. A survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association found that more than 34 percent of men said they could not remember the last time their feet were measured. More than 10 percent of women surveyed said that they wore shoes that hurt at least once a week, and eight percent of respondents said they wore painful shoes on a daily basis.
Since our feet flatten and lengthen with age, chances are good that you need a change in shoe size. In addition to tight or ill-fitting shoes, here is a list of common foot problems and the ways you can prevent or treat them.
Dry skin. When the skin on your feet is rough and dry, it can burn and itch. Get into the habit of moisturizing your feet. A good time to apply moisturizer is just after you have bathed or showered.
Ingrown toenails. You can help prevent this painful condition by carefully trimming your toenails straight across. Aim to keep the nail even with the top of the toe. If your toenail area is red and painful, it may be infected. See your doctor.
Corns and calluses. These painful sores often result from wearing shoes that do not fit properly. Since our feet tend to swell during the day, try on new shoes in the afternoon. To treat existing sores, gently rub them with a pumice stone or a callus file while your feet are damp from the shower or bath.
Use caution with the medicated corn-removing pads and solutions sold in drugstores. They can damage healthy skin and cause further pain. In addition, these products can be dangerous for diabetics or for people with poor circulation. Check with your doctor before using them.
Heel spurs. Pressure on your feet caused by being on your feet too much or by wearing non-supportive shoes can cause painful calcium deposits to develop on your heel. You can prevent this condition by wearing supportive footwear and by putting up your feet during the day. You can treat heel spurs with commercially sold heel pads and heel cups.
Hammertoes. When a toe does not have enough room to move inside a shoe or sock, its knuckle can swell and pull the toe back. Hammertoes can affect a senior’s sense of balance, increasing the risk of falls. Be sure to wear shoes and socks that offer your feet ample toe space.
Athlete’s foot. This fungal infection does not just happen to athletes. The fungus — which thrives in warm, moist and dark areas – can cause blisters, peeling and itching. Use an over-the-counter powder or spray to treat this painful condition. Prevent further outbreaks by aiming to keep keeping your feet clean and dry.
Plantar warts. These warts are caused by a virus that may enter the sole of the foot through cuts in the skin. You can prevent plantar warts by not walking barefoot.
If you have diabetes, you need to be especially vigilant about foot care. Here are some extra tips:

  • Keep your blood glucose in your target range with the help of your medical team.
  • Keep your feet clean and dry.
  • Avoid going barefoot. Instead, wear soft, natural fiber socks and change them often.
  • Notify your doctor if you have a cut, a blister or a sore on your foot that doesn’t begin to heal in 24 hours.
  • Do not use over-the-counter solutions corn remedies.
  • Carefully trim your toenails each week.
  • Elevate your feet frequently to help increase circulation.
  • Avoid crossing your legs.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Avoid socks with restricting ridges or elastic.

It is a good idea to inspect your feet every day. Take a few minutes to examine them for any redness or swelling. Be on the lookout for sores, cuts, bruises or blisters. Use a hand-held mirror to be able to see your feet well without bending or straining.
Consult your doctor if you notice any of the following problems:

  • reduced sensation to pain or to extreme temperatures
  • any part of your foot or leg that appears blue or black
  • an injury that does not seem to be healing
  • numbness, tingling or persistent cramping
  • pain from exercise that does not improve after rest


For more information on foot care for seniors, here are a few helpful resources:

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