Talk about getting your steps in; The American Podiatric Medical Association states that by the time an American reaches the age of 50, on average, he or she has already walked a total of 75,000 miles. Whoa! No wonder we need to make sure to take special care of our feet as we age. The American Geriatrics Society says one-third of people older than 65 have problems with their feet. A foot disorder that causes pain can significantly slow seniors down. This is a problem because staying as active as possible is important for everyone, but particularly the aging population.
As we age our feet can change for many reasons but mostly due to general wear and tear. You might notice:
- The fatty cushion of padding begin to thin
- Arches begin to flatten
- Skin get drier
- Toenails become brittle
- Size changes
With these changes comes the need to take special care of our feet to avoid injury. If you’re a senior or take care of a senior, here are some tips to help keep senior feet in tip top shape.
Use the Right Socks
Due to swelling and changing sizes, our normal socks may no longer be right for us. Getting enough blood flow to the feet is extremely important at all ages but when our feet start to swell, normal socks might be too tight and inhibit blood flow to the feet. Seamless socks offer more give and won’t dig into the skin of the feet.
Seniors should also look for moisture-wicking socks to avoid bacteria and moisture build up that could lead to blisters or infection.
The Right Shoes
No matter how old we are, shoes that don’t fit right become a major pain. But in seniors, an ill-fitting shoe can lead to bigger problems. A loose shoe could cause trip and fall accidents for those who are already losing strength or balance as they age. And too tight a shoe will decrease blood flow to the feet and cause pain and discomfort.
It’s best to get remeasured for shoes consistently as you age and especially if shoes that once fit are starting to cause pain or discomfort.
Since ill-fitting shoes are a major cause of foot pain, CNAs need to make sure that the shoes their patients are wearing fit properly.
Stretch the Feet
Our feet are prime locations for fascia, a band of connective tissue beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs. It’s important to keep facia as flexible as possible since it connects throughout our whole body and can cause pain and tension when it’s tight. Stretching this fascia and the feet is particularly important for seniors as it can:
- Improve range of motion
- Increase muscles strength
- Improve balance
When feet are strong, it can prevent falls so make sure to regularly stretch your feet. It’s also important to keep blood flowing, so set a timer to remind you to stretch if you’ve been sitting a long time.
Please consult a doctor before starting an exercise or stretching program!
More Senior Foot Care Tips
Here are some additional tips for caring for senior feet!
- Keep toenails trimmed
- Apply lotion and keep feet moisturized
- Examine the bottom of the feet regularly (for sores or blisters)
- Try insoles to improve stability and balance (but consult your doctor to see what type of insole is best!)
- Wear socks and shoes at all times
- Get regular pedicures and foot spas/baths
Our feet work hard to carry us those 75,000 (+!) miles, so make sure you are taking care of them so they can continue to carry you forward mile after mile!