Why It's Important For Seniors To Take Proper Care of Their Feet
Feet lose cushioning over time, and the nails and skin can grow brittle and dry.
Many seniors experience reduced overall blood flow, and this can delay the healing of foot sores.
The best thing you can do for your feet is wear comfortable shoes that fit properly. It is particularly important to avoid high-heeled or tight-fitting shoes that put unnecessary pressure on the foot.
Foot Care & Seniors
The constant pinching and rubbing from “fashionable” footwear are a leading cause of bunions, calluses, and corns. Feet may become wider as you age, so you should make a habit of having them measured before buying a new pair of shoes.
Another way to take care of your feet is to encourage good blood circulation. If you usually spend a considerable portion of the day in a chair, you can boost your circulation by exercising, stretching, and walking.
Avoid sitting too long with your legs crossed or wearing tight socks. And here’s yet another reason to refrain from tobacco use: Smoking narrows the arteries and can hinder blood flow.
You can also avoid problems such as foot odor by washing your feet every day and drying them carefully (drying between your toes can also prevent other problems such as athletes foot), and alternating what shoes you wear each day.
What are the foot problems seniors commonly face?
Here are a few common ailments, all of which can be prevented and treated.
- Ingrown toenails. This occurs when a sharp piece of nail pierces the skin surrounding the nailbed. Rather than trying to pull it off, carefully trim the nail straight across so that it is even with the top of the toe. Trimming regularly will also help prevent future issues. If you have an ingrown toenail that appears red and/or infected, you should see a doctor – especially if you have diabetes.
- Heel spurs. Putting too much pressure on your feet – by wearing shoes that don’t give proper support, standing too long, or being overweight – can cause calcium deposits to form on your heel. These calcium deposits can lead to considerable pain and discomfort. You can give your feet a break with heel cups, heel pads, or other forms of support. If a heel spur continues to cause you pain and discomfort, make an appointment with your doctor.
- When a toe doesn’t have adequate room to move, the knuckle can become inflamed and draw the toe back. Hammertoes are especially problematic for seniors because they can affect balance and raise the risk of falls. The remedy is simple: Wear shoes and socks that give your toes plenty of space.
- Dry skin. You can reduce the itching and burning of dry skin with moisturizers, preferably the kind with lanolin or petroleum jelly.
- Corns and calluses. As mentioned, wearing shoes that fit properly is the best way to prevent painful foot sores. If they do develop, you can pare them down by gently rubbing them with a callus file or pumice stone. You can protect them from further damage with moleskin or nonmedicated pads. The medicated corn-removing treatments sold in drugstores may be tempting, but use extreme caution: They can damage healthy skin, which ends up causing even more pain. These products are especially dangerous for people with diabetes or other circulation problems. If you have one of these conditions, contact a doctor at the first sign of a callus or corn.
- Athlete’s foot. This condition is not exclusive to athletes. This fungus thrives in moist, dark, warm areas, which makes the foot a compelling target. If you notice peeling, blisters, redness, and itching (particularly between the toes), quickly apply an athlete’s foot powder or spray to the fungus. You can prevent athlete’s foot by keeping your feet dry and clean and, whenever possible, wearing open-toe sandals or going barefoot. Please note that going barefoot can be hazardous if you have diabetes or other circulation problems.
How should people with diabetes care for their feet?
If you have diabetes, seemingly minor foot problems can pose major threats to your health. This disease often damages the blood vessels that carry blood to the feet, which means small wounds will heal at a slower rate and can even lead to gangrene.
In many cases, what started as a simple blister or corn becomes a life-threatening infection that forces foot or leg amputation. To further complicate things, diabetes can also numb the nerves in the feet, making it easier to overlook minor wounds as they fester and worsen.
For these reasons, people with diabetes must be extra vigilant about foot care, especially if they have had the disease for a number of years. Here are some tips for keeping your feet healthy:
- Always wear socks and shoes while walking around — going barefoot makes you susceptible to injuries that may not heal properly — and wear socks at night if your feet are cold. In addition, check that the inner lining of your shoes is smooth, and carefully trim your toenails regularly.
- Examine your feet every day. Call your doctor immediately if you find a callus or corn, or if you have a blister, scrape, cut, or bruise that doesn’t begin to heal within one day. Do not use over-the-counter solutions to remove corns.
- Keep the blood flowing. When your feet get tired, relax and put them up for a while. Flex your feet, wiggle your toes, and rotate your ankles for a few minutes, two to three times every day. Do not cross your legs for extended periods of time, and above all, do not smoke.
- Keep your feet clean. Wash them in warm water and dry them carefully every day. You can use a moisturizer, but don’t apply it between your toes. Wear clean, soft, absorbent socks made of natural fibers such as cotton, and change them often.
- Take care of your diabetes. Keep your blood glucose in your target range with the help of your health care team.
Our Staff are Dedicated to Supporting Health and Wellness for Seniors
You can learn more about our facilities, our staff, and our onsite health services by scheduling a tour for Hearthstone of Beaverton and/or Hearthstone at Murrayhill.
We provide direct access to a number of medical specialists and community staff members that are available 24 hours a day.
If your loved ones need support around personal organization, managing their medications, or any other type of assistance, our staff can provide immediate help.
12520 SW Hart Road
Beaverton, OR 97008
If you are near by, we encourage you to also review our facilities at Hearthstone at Murrayhill. You can schedule a tour or ask any initial questions you may have by calling 503-520-0911 or by heading over to our location at:
10880 SW Davies Rd
Beaverton, OR 97008
Hearthstone of Beaverton
Assisted Living | Short Stays/Respite Care
Hearthstone at Murrayhill
Independent Living | Assisted Living | Memory Care