Elderly Foot Care: The Secrets to Aging Gracefully…for Your Feet!
Posted by Jenn F. on Monday, March 21st, 2016
Research from the American Podiatric Medical Association suggests that up to 77% of Americans have suffered from some type of foot pain in their lives. Half of all aging adults say that foot problems or pain have limited their day-to-day activities at times. For senior citizens, this means they aren’t able to enjoy daily activities like taking daily walks for cardiovascular health, volunteering at their local charities, continuing working, or playing with grandchildren.
Here at the Center For Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine offices in Westchester and Manhattan, we work with a number of people over 60 who want to lead active, fulfilling lives well into their “Golden Years” and who understand that the key to doing that is preventing foot problems and maintaining healthy, happy feet. Each pair of feet we treat is unique, but there is some general advice that can be applied to everyone.
5 Secrets to Healthy, Happy Feet As You Age
1. Keep the blood circulating.
Foot and ankle injuries are notorious for being slow healers. Aside from the fact that it’s really challenging to “baby” our feet and keep off them as we heal, the lower extremities tend to have poorer circulation than other areas of the body — which means less healing oxygen and nutrients reach this area. Some of this is inevitable, but there are also a few things you can do about it:
- Elevate your feet above the heart when you are sitting or lying down.
- Get up and stretch your feet if you’ve been sitting for a while.
- Add leisurely walking to your daily routine.
- Get a gentle foot massage.
- Soak your feet in a basin of warm water.
- Have your feet professionally measured to be sure your shoes fit properly.
- Avoid exposing your feet to cold temperatures.
- Don’t smoke.
2. Ask your podiatrist about custom-made orthotic inserts.
There are so many ways a custom insole for your shoes can help. Molded to your unique foot shape, it can offload pressure caused by anomalies like high or collapsed arches. No matter what shoe you wear, the orthotic will add much-needed padding and structural support so your feet don’t have to work as hard. Here at our centers, we outfit patients with SOLs 3-D printed orthotics that are customized, fashionable, and affordable. You can read more about printed orthotics here.
3. Pay attention to what you’re wearing on your feet.
Younger patients often report that they wear high heels all day long at work or fail to change out their running shoes often enough. Older patients who spend more time at home run into trouble when they fail to wear shoes with enough support. Slippers can take a terrible toll on the feet — even if you’re just wearing them walking around the house. People often fail to realize how much walking they really do at home. When climbing stairs to do laundry, slipper feet can present a falling hazard and place an inordinate amount of stress on the Achilles’ tendon. Be sure you have a pair of house shoes made of soft, flexible material (like leather) with sturdy non-slip soles and thick cushioning. Check the APMA website for a list of recommendations.
4. Maintain a healthy skin barrier.
Fungal and bacterial conditions are some of the most common complaints among older patients. Dry skin can cause itching, burning, and cracked heels where microbes can get into the body. Once you have something like athlete’s foot or toenail fungus, it can be extremely difficult to eradicate and prevent it from recurring. Here are a few steps you can take to form a protective barrier:
- Use a daily moisturizer and wear breathable, high-performance socks.
- Change socks when they become damp.
- Use a foot powder if your feet tend to sweat a lot.
- Have your feet professionally sized to be sure that you’re wearing the proper shoe size.
5. Get a gait analysis.
Foot pain has a tendency to alter the way we walk and our overall balance, whether we realize it or not. This can lead to foot and ankle injuries; knee, hip, and back pain; sprains; or falls with fracture injuries. A visit to our gait analysis center can test whether or not your movements have become compromised by foot pain. We can assess areas of the foot and body that are absorbing excessive amounts of pressure that are not only precursors of bone, ligament, and tendon issues, but of pressure ulcers, corns, calluses, and bunions too. Other diagnostic tools at our disposal include x-ray, CT scan, and ultrasound machines, as well as the standard clinical evaluations that only podiatrists are uniquely trained and certified to do. We focus on the overall biomechanics of the feet to uncover and treat the root cause of pain. Contact us to schedule a visit.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.