While we are young, we take our mobility for granted.
We skip, run, hop, kick and tango. Our feet lead us wherever we want to go, whenever we want, at whatever breakneck speed we choose. Rolled ankles pass quickly, our muscles rarely trouble us and joints flow like well-oiled machines.
As we age, maintaining our ability to get around becomes of paramount importance. To preserve our independence is to conserve our quality of life.
So what are some ways that we can care for our ageing feet? To answer this, first, let’s learn a bit about some common problems that seniors often experience?
Foot health problems for the ageing population:
Just like the skin on our face, feet skin can lose its elasticity and become wrinkled and dry leading to thin, exposed skin that can easily be damaged. Elderly people may also experience the loss of soft tissue under the foot that cushions our heels, toes and the balls of our feet.
Have you noticed a change in your toenails? As we age they become harder to cut, brittle and split easily. Ingrown toenails become more prevalent and can lead to painful infections.
Common foot problems that increase with age arise from the fragility of our bones and their joints. Arthritis and bunions can cause pain but also instability leading to an increased risk of falls and other injuries.
You may be asking yourself, ‘What can be done to avoid these feet problems in future?’. Here are some key tips in feet maintenance and preemptive care.
Care for feet and toenails:
Step 1 – Inspection
If you are able, inspect your feet regularly, paying attention to the soles and in between the toes where we don’t normally see. Look for redness and swelling that may indicate infection. The ability to reach down to feet or eyesight problems may make feet inspection difficult. You may want to ask for assistance from a carer or make an appointment to see a podiatrist. Some podiatrists offer helpful home visits and mobile services.
Step 2 – Keeping clean
Pay careful attention to washing feet, especially between the toes. Use a mild soap that won’t irritate or dry the skin. Dry thoroughly (again between toes) and apply some moisturiser, such as coconut oil or sorbolene, to prevent skin cracks (don’t apply between toes). Keep warm and apply clean, natural fibre socks, like wool or cotton for breathability.
Step 3 – Trimming nails
If you are capable, keep toenails trimmed regularly. Avoid ingrown toenails by trimming straight across the nail. Do not cut the corners. Keep the cut even and consider using a nail file or emery board with downward strokes to smooth out the nail and avoid snagging on socks. Again, seek assistance from a carer or a podiatrist if you are unable to reach your toes.
Step 4 – Shoes
It is crucial to have proper fitting shoes. Poorly fitting shoes are a common cause of many foot-related injuries and infections and induce discomfort Have a podiatrist measure your feet regularly as ageing feet will change in bone structure and shape.
Step 5 – Professional check-ups
Make regular visits to your local podiatry clinic for a professional check-up. Dry skin, brittle and ingrown nails, discolouration, and various sensations in feet such as tingles and numbness can all be signs of more serious health concerns. Remedial Massage can also be a good way to maintain circulation of blood in the feet and slow down the ageing process. A reputable podiatry clinic will provide this service.
East Gosford Podiatry has been caring for elderly feet on the Central Coast since 2005. So whether you live in Kincumber, Green Point or Erina, or hail from Terrigal, Wamberal or Long Jetty, call us to arrange your check up today.