We walk on them, run on them, dance on them, and put them up at night. But how much thought do we ever really give to the health of our feet? As your parent ages, foot problems can become more common, making walking more difficult and causing leg and back pain. Conditions such as arthritis and diabetes can make foot problems more likely, too. But a little TLC will keep your loved one’s feet in good health for years to come.
Tips for maintaining foot health in seniors
Watch for signs of problems. Early detection is the best defense against foot problems. Watch out for tingling in the feet, dry skin, discolored skin or toenails, or a feeling of numbness. Your loved one should consult their doctor if any of these signs are present. If your loved has diabetes, they should also see a podiatrist once or twice a year.
Keep them clean. Your loved one should wash their feet and dry them thoroughly at least once a day. They should also wash their feet after any activity that causes them to break a sweat. Keeping the feet clean and dry is the best way to prevent infections. Daily attention will also help your loved one become familiar with how their feet normally look. This will make it easier for them to spot any changes that occur. Toenails should be kept well-trimmed; toenails that hit the shoe can cause foot pain and may become ingrown. Make sure your loved one has several pairs of shoes to rotate between so each pair has a chance to air out between wears.
Adapt to changing feet. It is not uncommon for our feet to change shape as we age. This might mean that Mom can no longer fit into her favorite shoes. Wearing ill-fitting shoes will exacerbate any foot problems that may be present. Additionally, Mom may find that her foot size fluctuates more frequently and that she needs to shop for footwear more often. She may need more arch support, since our arches tend to flatten out as we age. If regular shoes feel too tight, help her search out brands that offer wide sizes. Late in the day is the best time to shop, since our feet tend to swell as the day goes on. Ideally, your loved one should have several pairs of shoes that fit well. This will allow her to choose what feels best on any given day. If getting to the store is difficult, many online retailers offer free shipping and returns. This makes it easy for Mom to try new styles at home.
Stay active. Encourage your loved one to invest in the most comfortable pair of walking shoes they can and to use them each day. Staying active is the best way to keep feet healthy and strong. Ask your loved one’s doctor about exercises to strengthen the feet, such as yoga and ankle stretches. Exercise can also help your loved one shed pounds, quite literally lightening the load on their feet. When your loved one rests, encourage them to elevate their feet. It will keep the circulation going and prevent blood from pooling. Plus, it feels good at the end of a long day.
Many senior living communities have relationships with traveling Podiatrists. These Podiatrists make it much easier for your senior loved one to maintain good foot health by checking in on them every couple months when they visit.