One of the most used, but often neglected parts of our bodies are our feet. The average adult takes 5,117 steps a day, or approximately 3.8 kilometers per day. In a year that’s 1,398 kilometers! By the time you reach 60 you’ll likely have walked 75,000 – 100,000 kilometers (if you’re just average). That is a lot of wear and tear on our feet every year, and as we age, just like a car, can lead to complications if not regularly checked and maintained.
There are many issues that can arise in feet, not just because of wear and tear, that include:
- Diabetic complications
- Skin tears
- Fungal infections
- Ingrown nails
- Corns, bunions, warts
- Hammer toes
- General pain
Foot care becomes more difficult with age as we become less flexible or have other problems that restrict our movement. The key is to regularly check your feet when bathing, or have someone you are comfortable with give a visual examination of your feet regularly, and if anything looks or feels out of place visit your doctor. The key with most foot issues is early diagnosis before the issue becomes more complicated.
Diabetes is one of the top contributors to foot issues in seniors, as diabetics are more susceptible to foot problems due to decrease circulation in their extremities, and slower healing time for any wounds to the feet and lower legs. Diabetics can, if not monitored, develop sever issues that will lead to amputation of the foot to prevent further life threatening issues, and this is preventable in 99% of the cases.
Some key warning signs to look for when diabetic are:
- Changes in skin colour
- Swelling in the foot, ankle, and leg
- Pain and sores in the foot and leg
- Issues with the nail including fungus, deformity, and ingrowth
Diabetics and care givers should regularly monitor their feet and perform the touch test, where with your eyes closed have someone touch your toes gently and let them know when you feel it. If you are losing feeling in your feet make sure to see your doctor to have further examination.
Key preventative measures
Seniors, and everyone, should regularly check their feet, trimming toe nails regularly to prevent issues. Cut your nails straight, not curved and dry them thoroughly after bathing/showering to prevent fungal infections. Putting damp feet into socks and shoes creates the perfect environment for fungus to take hold. Also after bathing moisturize feet using lotions
Another great thing to do, not just for foot health but overall health, is regular stretching of the legs and back daily. This will keep you flexible, and strengthen muscles, to make sure you can care for your feet on an ongoing basis.
Family members and care givers can also help to ensure that feet are healthy by regularly checking on aging feet, and helping with regular care.