The Importance of Foot Care For Senior Adults
The foot, with 26 bones, is one of the most complex and complicated parts of our bodies. The sheer amount of wear and tear our feet endure puts a lot of stress and strain on them over the years. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), by the age of 50, the average person will walk about 75,000 miles. That adds up to hundreds of tons of pressure on the foot every day.
It should come as no surprise that after a lifetime of carrying and supporting body weight that older people develop foot problems. Some of the most common problems senior adults have with their feet are:
- Corns, callouses, and dry skin. Patches of dry skin that form to protect the more sensitive areas of the foot are known as corns and callouses. They may form as a result of constant rubbing from wearing ill-fitted shoes or other everyday irritations. Most often, corns and callouses are accompanied by severely dry skin that becomes painful and leads to cracked skin that can easily become infected.
- Bunions. Also known as hallux valgus, bunions are bony bumps that develop on the outside of the big toe joint and are quite painful. Pressure on the big toe joint over time pushes the toe inward towards the second toe, changing the bone structure and leading to a bunion. This effect is often amplified by high heels or tight footwear.
- Arthritis. The foot has a lot of joints – 33 to be exact – and osteoarthritis that develops can cause intense pain and limited mobility for senior adults.
- Structural changes. As we get older the soft, fatty pads on the bottoms of our feet become thinner leading to painful steps and less arch support. Pinched nerves and Achilles tendonitis may also develop as the foot ages.
- Heel pain. Heel pain can make walking or standing a very painful experience. This heel pain may be a result of plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the ligament that runs along the bottom of the foot, or heel spurs which are bony fragments that develop on the heel bone.
- Diabetes. Senior adults with diabetes especially need to pay close attention to foot health. Diabetics have a higher rate of vascular problems that if not cared for properly, will lead to major issues with the feet that can eventually require amputation.
- Fungal infections and toenail problems. Exposure to various types of fungus and bacteria is common, and when balanced within our bodies can actually be quite beneficial to our health. Unfortunately, feet that are constantly damp or sweaty can result in an overgrowth of fungus that leads to painful and unsightly infections in the toenails. Wearing ill-fitting or shoes that are too tight for years can also cause toenails to grow at unusual angles that can lead to painful ingrown toenails that require surgery to correct. Dry, brittle nails are also much more common in seniors as a result of weakened blood flow to the lower extremities.
Taking proper care of our feet becomes harder as we age because we become less flexible and may no longer be able to reach our toes. The best thing a senior adult can do to care for their feet is to wear comfortable, properly fitting shoes. When feet are improperly cared for, however, the nerves, muscles, ligaments, blood vessels, bones, and joints can cause a whole host of problems that in turn contribute to a senior’s risk of falling.
Terrace Ridge Assisted Living provides in-house podiatry care to ensure that our residents keep their feet healthy. We provide a tasteful residential environment for those who, for whatever reason, should not live alone, but do not require skilled nursing care. Residents can live as independently as they wish here, with the calm assurance that help is always available, should they require any assistance with their activities of daily living. Schedule a tour today!