It is difficult to put your best foot forward when soreness comes with every step. Foot issues are common as we get older, which is understandable; there are many delicate bones that hold the weight of our bodies. Furthermore, because they are far away from the heart, our feet are almost certainly not getting as much oxygen-rich blood as needed to stay healthy – especially if a medical problem like diabetes limits the flow of blood to the feet.
However, many seniors choose to simply just grin (or grit their teeth) and bear it, instead of looking for relief from painful feet. This may result in not merely growing discomfort, but compromised mobility and balance issues. Difficulties with the feet can also be a red flag for other health problems that need diagnosis and treatment.
Watch for These Common Senior Foot Issues
Foot pain might result from:
- Dry skin. During the cold winter season, dry skin is prevalent. On the feet, it can cause cracks that aren’t just painful, but can lead to infection.
- Corns and calluses. These dense areas of dead skin on the feet usually arise from the friction from poorly fitting shoes.
- Bunions. In contrast to corns and calluses, bunions are the result of changes to bone structure. They may be incredibly painful, often occurring on the outer part of the big toe joint.
- Hammertoes. As opposed to all the toes lying flat, hammertoes point up. You might notice a corn in conjunction with the deformed toe.
- Arthritis. Arthritis can hit any of our joints, including the feet, creating both mobility issues and pain.
- Plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is a result of bony growths formed when a ligament on the heel becomes irritated. Walking and also simply standing can be extremely painful with this specific issue.
- Ingrown toenails. Toenails that grow at a different angle than usual may become ingrown in the flesh of the toe, often requiring a surgical procedure to remove.
- Fungal infections. Damp feet make a good breeding ground for fungus, which can occur between the toes.
Dr. Said Atway, clinical professor of podiatry at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, treats seniors dealing with these kinds of issues on both ends of the spectrum: either highly active and developing injuries from excessive use, in addition to people that have an inactive lifestyle dealing with limited blood circulation to the feet and poor general health. He highlights the value of proper footwear for seniors, who should try to avoid going barefoot or wearing shoes with too little support, such as sandals.
To find the best-fitting, most comfortable footwear, he suggests:
- Shopping for shoes later in the day, as gravity causes the feet to expand a little during the day
- Trying out shoes by walking in them for at least 20 minutes; giving them a test run on a carpeted area at home should avoid any wear on the bottoms of the shoes, so they can be returned if uncomfortable
- Seeking the advice of a podiatrist on the best kind of shoe for an older adult’s particular concerns
Keeping the feet clean, softened with lotion, and dry, and doing daily inspections to check for issues, is suggested for all older adults. An annual visit with the podiatrist can also help prevent problems.
Absolute Companion Care offers expert aging care solutions to help older adults maintain healthy feet, including guaranteeing good foot hygiene, providing transportation to search for footwear or to the podiatrist, taking regular walks together to enhance blood circulation, and more! Call us at 410-357-9640 for a cost-free in-home assessment today. Visit our Service Area page for a full list of the communities where we provide care.