Our feet serve as both shock absorber and propulsion engine that are capable of withstanding incredible stresses. As a result, they take quite a pounding over a lifetime. And foot problems are common in older adults, for a variety of reasons.
Feet widen and flatten, and the fat padding on the sole of the foot wears down as we age. Our skin and nails can also grow drier and more brittle, making them more susceptible to injuries and infection. And the healing of these injuries and infections can be exacerbated by age-related poor circulation.
Foot problems can also impair balance and function as we get older. And our foot pains can often be the precursor to more serious medical conditions—like arthritis, diabetes and nerve or circulatory disorders.
That’s why we recommend the following preventative measures to help maintain good foot health and better address the needs of aging feet.
Proper Footwear Is Essential
- Finding comfortable shoes that fit properly is the best thing you can do for your feet*
- Avoid tight or high-heeled shoes that put undue pressure on the foot
- Keep in mind that feet may get longer and/or wider in our later years, so always measure them before buying new shoes
- Alternate between different shoes every day to give them time to dry out, since feet can sweat as much as one pint a day
- Wear shoes whenever you go outside, to protect your feet from possible injuries
*Note: See our blog post on The Importance Of Footwear for additional tips on how to ensure a good shoe fit.
Check Feet Regularly
- Check your feet regularly or have a member of your family check them for you
- Look for cuts and blisters and ensure these stay clean and covered until they heal
- Exfoliate calloused tissue on the soles of the feet with an abrasive scrub or pumice stone
- Moisturize your feet on a regular basis; dry skin can lead to cracking and the potential for infection
- Check for ingrown toenails and if they get worse, get infected or are causing you pain, go see a podiatrist
Treat Feet Well
- Put your feet up when sitting down; this helps maintain good circulation
- Wiggle your toes and ankles for a few minutes, two or three times a day
- Stretch or walk around if you’ve been sitting for a long time
- Don’t sit with your legs crossed for long periods
- Try a gentle foot massage or a warm foot bath—or even a combination of the two
While we can’t prevent a lot of the natural consequences of aging and their impact on our feet, we can ensure our feet receive the best care possible. As a result, your feet will be happier and healthier, and so will you!