Far too often, people think foot issues are normal or simply a matter of aging, and are nothing worth worrying about. In reality, a problem with a foot or ankle is an issue that needs to be addressed, especially as we get older. Of course, the best course is to take steps to prevent a condition from developing in the first place, and a key component of effective senior foot care is prevention. When issues can’t be prevented, it is important to have them treated at their earliest stages.
Senior Foot Care Issues
Feet are complicated structures and face tremendous amounts of pressure and physical stress, so there are many foot and ankle conditions that can develop. Some conditions, though, are more common among our older patients, including:
Arthritis – To clear up a popular misconception, there are actually several types of arthritis. The type people generally associate with arthritis is osteoarthritis. This is commonly seen in older individuals and is caused by natural “wear and tear” over time. Gout and rheumatoid arthritis are other arthritic conditions which can cause issues in the lower limbs.
Athlete’s foot – As we age, the body has a decreased capacity for effectively fighting off infections. This means fungal infections like athlete’s foot are more commonly seen in senior patients. Anti-fungal products (sprays, powders) are usually quite effective for treating mild-to-moderate cases and can even be used to prevent the condition from developing.
Fungal toenail infections – Whereas athlete’s foot affects the skin, some fungal infections take place in the toenails. These fungal infections cause discolored, thickened, and crumbly nails, with the offensive fungus often being contracted from locker room floors or pool decks (warm, damp environments that are ideal for fungal growth).
Dry skin – As the body ages, it doesn’t keep skin as moist as it did during younger years. Now, dryness might not seem like a big deal, but excessive dryness can lead to fissures and cracks in the skin on your feet, which are openings for microorganisms. You can lower your infection risk by using moisturizing lotion or cream daily.
Toe deformities – Muscular imbalances in the toes can build up over time and cause deformities like hammertoes, mallet toes, and claw toes. Bunions are another issue that can develop due to imbalance in a joint (the joint found at the base of the big toe, in this instance).
Prevention Problems, Pain and Injuries for Senior Feet
The best practice is always to take steps that will decrease the risk for these conditions. Fortunately, preventative foot care doesn’t have to be particularly complicated. Some of the best practices include:
- Keep your feet dry. This is a key component to avoiding fungal infections. If your feet are going to become wet or sweaty, have a spare set of socks to change into afterwards. Make sure your socks wick moisture away. Choose shoes that are made from breathable materials. Air out your feet when possible by wearing sandals or open-toed shoes.
- Get regular exercise. We cannot stress enough the importance of exercise for your overall health, but as an added benefit it will also keep your feet safe by providing better circulation, injury prevention, and stronger muscles to retain functionality.
- Watch what you eat. Your body needs proper nutrients to keep the bones, muscles, skin, and nail tissue of your feet nourished.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If you adhere to the previous two practices, this will come naturally, which is important for reducing the stress and pressure feet face from excess weight.
- Keep your nails trimmed. Maintain your nails by keeping them trimmed even with the edge of your toe (so they aren’t too long or too short) and in a straight line. Avoid the temptation to round off your nails, as that can lead to ingrown nails.
- Wear shoes that fit well. Too many foot and ankle issues arise from footwear that does not fit properly. Choose pairs that cradle the heel, allow your toes to wiggle, and have a thumb’s width of space between your longest toe and the front.
We are able to help with senior foot care services in two different ways: treatment and information. Our Twin Falls podiatry office can provide the care you need for any existing foot or ankle problem that is causing pain or interfering with your (or a loved one’s) ability to perform regular tasks. Additionally, we can help you create a foot care plan to decrease the risk of having issues arise.Whether you need treatment or prevention help, make Advanced Foot & Ankle, Twin Falls podiatrist, your first choice. Simply give us a call at (208) 731-6321 to schedule your appointment today.