As we age, our feet become less mobile, drier, and prone to various injuries and deformities. However, as a senior, you can take good care of your feet to preserve your comfort and mobility. Here are some tips on how you can stay active and pain-free as you keep your feet and ankles as healthy as possible.
Tip #1 Wash Your Feet Daily
Routinely rinsing your feet with soap and warm water and using a clean, dry towel helps soothe cracked, dry skin (a common senior foot problem). It also helps eliminate fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms which can lead to skin and nail infections. This is particularly important for people with diabetes, peripheral artery disease, neuropathy and other chronic health conditions affecting the lower extremities.
Tip #2 Inspect Your Feet on a Regular Basis
Watch for signs of deformities, such as bunions, and if you notice a problem developing, see your podiatrist for a foot care examination right away. Early intervention on flat arches, bunions, hammer toes and more can slow their progression and avoid the need for surgeries and other podiatric interventions.
Tip #3 Wear Comfortable, Supportive Shoes Which Fit Properly
Seniors–diabetics in particular–should avoid going barefoot to avoid injury and infection. Instead, wear quality shoes with good arch support and plenty of room in the toe boxes. Wear shower sandals in a public shower and poolside to reduce the risk of athlete’s foot.
Finally, a well-fitting shoe helps avoid bunions, pressure sores and other acquired deformities which result from friction and insufficient room to move your toes. You should also avoid wearing shoes higher than two inches as they place damaging pressure on the forefoot.
Tip #4 Trim Nails Straight Across the Toe
Use a clean, sharp clipper to trim your toenails. Never round the edges, but rather, cut straight and even with the top of the toe. This practice avoids painful ingrown toenails and possible infections.
Tip #5 Put Your Feet Up and Relax
Excess fluid will drain back toward the heart, and you will notice end of the day swelling subsides. This practice is particularly helpful if you sit at a computer or stand for your job for prolonged periods of time.
Tip #6 Stay Physically Active
Exercise not only improves cardiovascular endurance and muscular strength, but it also improves bone health, flexibility, and circulation in the lower extremities. However, as your feet carry you through the day and absorb an average of about 700 tons of pressure, it is best to start any exercise routine gradually. Be sure to warm-up and stretch your feet and ankles before a workout, walk, or play a pickleball game.
Tip #7 See Your Podiatrist for a Routine Foot and Ankle Examination
With a routine examination, you will know how best to take care of any possible health conditions–especially important for the diabetic who can develop dangerous ulcers on the lower legs and feet. Plus, your podiatrist can give you specialized instruction on the shoes best suited to your gait and foot shape and may even advise protective or corrective orthotics.
Orthotics are customized shoe inserts which make ambulation easier for senior athletes and for those with ulcers, gait problems (such as overpronation) and deformities.
Expert Foot Care in Rhode Island and Massachusetts
At the Foot & Ankle Institute of New England, our three experienced podiatrists, Drs. Criscione, Rogers and Gallucci, love working with their senior patients. They understand how aging affects foot and ankle health, structure and mobility and can show you ways to keep the fit, active lifestyle you desire.
To learn more about podiatric health and aging, call the location of Foot & Ankle Institute nearest you to arrange your personalized consultation with one of our foot doctors. You can also request your visit online.
We look forward to seeing you very soon!