Self-Care for feet | September 17, 2022
Many older adults exercise regularly, get frequent checkups, and in general, try to take good care of themselves, but one aspect of their health that they (and for that matter, younger people) frequently neglect is good foot care. Foot injury, neglect, and disease are major factors contributing to mobility, or lack thereof, in older adults. In one study, 71% of respondents aged 65 or older reported foot pain and problems, yet only 39% of them had sought medical advice and only 26% of them believe their foot problems were medical conditions.
Our senior adults tend to experience more problems with their feet than younger adults because they have used them for longer. Women are four times more likely than men to have foot problems. This is probably because of the preponderance of high heels. Other conditions, such as poor circulation and diabetes can also affect foot health. The danger of neglecting feet can mean reduced quality of life; problems with balance, coordination, and gait, all of which produce an increased risk of falling; and can lead to diseases and infections. Like other parts of the body, however, good care and maintenance can go far in promoting health and ensuring that senior individuals remain mobile and independent.
Healthy seniors should monitor foot health by regularly cleaning and examining their feet for any changes or irregularities. Using mild soaps followed by lotion helps keep the skin from drying out, cracking, and itching. Ensuring the feet remain dry helps to fight off fungal infections as well and keeping the feet warm can aid in circulation.
Keeping toenails properly trimmed helps to prevent problems such as toe pain and in-grown nails. Toenails should be cut straight across, not curved, using clippers designed for toenails, and should be slightly longer than the tips of the toes. Also regularly stretching the calves, legs, and feet; walking, and wearing appropriate shoes prevent conditions such as plantar fasciitis, which can cause debilitating heel pain and promote foot health.
Caring for feet can become difficult for seniors who may be less flexible or have other impairments that prevent them from cleaning, reaching, and examining their feet. Caregivers may need to help in these cases, especially in seniors with medical problems, such as diabetes that can severely impact the feet, to ensure that feet and toenails have properly cared.
Family caregivers should ensure feet are kept dry and clean and monitor the toenails for misshapenness or deformities, trimming them as necessary. They should also examine the feet for any fungal infections, cuts, sores, or cracking from dryness. These conditions can lead to infection, disease, and amputation in seniors with diabetes and other medical conditions, so they need to be addressed promptly by medical professionals. Caregivers can also aid with circulation by providing a stool for senior individuals to elevate their feet, and by providing ample opportunities for the older individual to sit and rest when out walking.
For information on how in-home care can help you or someone you love, contact your local Comfort Keepers® office today.
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