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Never Take Your Feet for Granted

baby-feet-of-a-newbornFeet. They carry you from here to there every day. Typically, we don’t give much thought to our feet until we experience pain.

Foot problems tend to be common in older people for several reasons:

  • As we age the bottom of the foot loses its cushioning making the foot more susceptible to bruising
  • Older skin can become dry and brittle, causing open areas, especially around the toes
  • Joints can become inflamed by poor circulation
  • Diabetes and can keep a foot wound from healing properly.

One way to avoid foot pain is to wear comfortable shoes that fit. Avoid tight or high-heeled shoes that put undue pressure on certain areas of the foot. Constant rubbing and pinching from shoes that don’t fit properly can cause corns, calluses and bunions. Feet change in size and width as we age, so it is a good idea to get fitted every time you buy new shoes.

Another way to avoid foot pain is to keep the blood supply flowing to your feet. Walking, stretching, or doing some type of exercise improves circulation providing benefits to more than just your feet. Avoid sitting too long especially if you like to cross your legs. Avoid tight socks, which can cut circulation causing pain or slow wound healing.

When your feet hurt it is important to know the problem to get the right treatment. Talk to your doctor if you are having foot pain to get a proper diagnosis and treatment for your pain.

The following foot issues affect many of us as we age:

Plantar Fasciitis

I have been dealing with Plantar Fasciitis for the past few months. I know firsthand how difficult everyday tasks are when foot pain is intense. Plantar Fasciitis is the inflammation of the band of tough tissue connecting the heel bone to the toes. The pain is usually more intense in the morning as I get out of bed. I also find the pain is quite intense after I have been sitting a while. To heal Plantar Fasciitis, you may need to rest your foot, and use arch supports and add extra cushioning to your shoes. Patience is important because the foot pain can return if you try to do too much too soon.

Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s Foot is another challenge for seniors. You don’t have to be an athlete to develop this fungal infection. Warm, dark, moist areas, like a foot inside a shoe is a perfect environment for this fungus to grow. Symptoms of athlete’s foot are redness, blisters, peeling and itching. Changing shoes every oth
er day to allow the shoes to dry out, use cotton socks and after a shower or bath dry your feet especially between the toes. Wearing sandals allows the feet to breathe.

Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses can be very painful. They can certainly limit your activity. The best way to avoid corns and/or calluses is to wear properly fitting shoes. There are numerous over the counter remedies for this issue, but there is a possibility you could cause more damage and have further pain. A podiatrist can help you deal with corns and/or calluses especially if you are diabetic or have poor circulation.

Hammertoes

Hammertoes happen when the shoe is not wide enough at the toe and the knuckle swells pulling the toe back. This can cause a balance problem for seniors that could result in a fall. The best way to prevent a hammertoe is to wear properly fitting shoes with ample space for the toes. If you suspect you have a hammertoe, see your doctor or podiatrist for treatment.

Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails can become infected and extremely painful. It is good to check your feet frequently and to trim your toenails carefully leaving a little of the white so as to keep the nail from pushing into the nail bed. Cutting toenails too short can lead to problems of infection and pain.

Diabetes and Feet

If you are diabetic, it is extra important to pay attention to your feet. A minor corn, a cut or a callous can become life threatening due to the issues diabetes can cause. Diabetes can cause the blood vessels to shrink causing a wound to heal very slowly or not at all. It can also damage nerve endings leaving you unaware that there is a problem with your feet. Lack of circulation or lack of feeling can lead to some very serious consequences such as amputation. It is extremely important that you check your feet every day, especially if you are diabetic.

Blood flow to your feet is vital. Get up, move around, do stretches, and take walks, all of which keep a healthy flow of blood traveling to your feet. Sierra View Homes Retirement Community has many paths to take a walk, there is a heated pool for swimming and exercise equipment to build strength. You will walk better and farther with proper fitting shoes with good support and have good cushioning. A podiatrist comes on campus to care for the more difficult foot care issues.

This is not a complete list of possible problems that can happen to your feet. Foot pain can really hinder quality of life. It is important to pay attention to your feet. Watch for problems and address them quickly. If there is a problem, see your doctor to get treatment and keep moving for a long and healthy life.

About the author

Ro Linscheid

Ro Linscheid is the Associate Executive Director and Admissions and Marketing Director for Sierra View Homes Retirement Community. You can contact her at (559) 638-9226 or rlinscheid@sierraview.org.