Importance of Foot Care for Seniors
Healthy feet play a significant role in helping seniors stay active, keep their balance, and remain as independent as possible. Hence, foot care becomes increasingly important with age.
Causes of Foot Problems in Seniors
Foot problems in seniors are mostly due to age-related changes such as losing the fatty cushioning at the bottom of the feet, flattening of the arches, dryness in the nails and skin, poor blood circulation to the feet, and other systemic diseases. In elderly patients with comorbid conditions such as hypertension or diabetes, the blood vessels get damaged, forming slow-healing wounds that can lead to gangrene and the possible amputation of the foot. Due to these reasons, seniors must pay close attention to foot care.
Types of Foot Problems in Seniors:
- Athlete’s foot: This is a fungal infection of the foot that begins between the toes, causing redness, itching, and blisters on the skin. It is caused by contact with surfaces contaminated with the fungus.
- Corns and Calluses: These are hardened areas of dark skin formed in certain parts of the feet and toes as a response to friction or pressure from poorly-fitting shoes.
- Heel Spurs: Standing or walking for a long time can cause strain on the ligaments in the foot, leading to the formation of calcium deposits on the heels that results in pain.
- Ingrown Toenails: Seniors often develop nail plate changes resulting in an ingrown toenail that can cause toe pain and infection.
Tips for Foot Care for Seniors
To keep your feet healthy and avoid problems with your feet as you age, the following should be considered:
- Maintain Good Foot Hygiene: Regularly cleaning your feet is necessary to prevent fungal, bacterial, and viral infections. Cleaning can be done using warm water and soap.
- Moisturize Your Feet: Dryness of skin on the feet will make it more prone to cracking and the formation of sores. To prevent this, moisturizing the feet is necessary. After you wash your feet, apply a moisturizer to make the skin soft and smooth.
- Monitoring foot sores: Older people who spend a lot of time in bed are at a higher risk for developing bedsores at the back of their heels. This area should be constantly monitored, and appropriate treatment provided in a timely fashion.
- Trimming toenails: Proper trimming of nails is necessary to prevent ingrown toenails.
- Good-fitting shoes: Wearing shoes that are too tight or too loose can cause irritation and blister formation. To avoid foot problems, always wear comfortable shoes that fit snugly, provide good arch support, and are wide enough to prevent crowding of the toes.
- Improve blood circulation: Senior patients with diabetes and vascular disorders are at a higher risk of developing foot wounds and sores due to poor blood circulation in the feet. This can be improved by regular foot massage, elevating the feet while at rest, and taking regular medications as prescribed.