As people get older, they are more likely to have feet problems, because it may be harder to care for them properly.
Elderly people may live alone, may be married, may be living with other family members or could be living in an aged care facility. In the latter case, there are trained people on hand, who will help seniors look after their feet.
When elderly people live alone, they may have minor problems that can become more serious if neglected.
Older people lose some of the cushioning in their feet, as the skin grows dry and becomes brittle. Poor circulation is a common problem as well, and this can lead to a slower healing rate if there are issues with their feet.
It’s critical that older people check their feet daily, to avoid problems from persisting if they do appear. If a person can’t check their own feet, they should get a loved one or a friend to help them with this task.
Sometimes older adults may carry extra weight. This means there is added stress on the feet when they do move around. If walking causes pain, people should seek medical help to identify and then treat the problems.
Other common foot complaints the elderly may face at times include:
- Bunions: a misaligned bone or a bony growth. This mostly forms at the base of the big toe, but can occur at the base of the small toe as well. It may even force the toe to bend on an abnormal angle towards the smaller toes.
- Nail problems: ingrown toenails and discolored or thickened nails.
- Pain in the heel: pain can be felt at the rear of the arches. It is caused by inflamed ligaments or heel spurs.
- Corns and calluses: dead, thick, yellowish skin on the toes.
- Hammertoe: toes may curl under the foot, sometimes rigidly and sometimes with a degree of flexibility, but the end result is often a dislocated joint.
- Painful arches: This is caused by either high arches or flat feet (due to fallen arches).
If an older person also has diabetes, then ulcers, blisters, bruises, cuts, scrapes and scratches may all take a longer time to heal.
Elderly people shouldn’t sit around all the time if they can move and exercise a little. Walking is a healthy activity, but it is essential to make sure that the shoes are comfortable, having the right size and offering support where it is needed.
Statistics show that 75% of all people over 65 years of age wear shoes that are smaller than their correct size. Also, it has been estimated that up to 87% of elderly citizens have some form of pain in their feet at some point.
Older people are more likely to have other chronic diseases and conditions, which increase the potential problems of their feet. Regular foot care and checks should be part of their daily routine, so they can continue to enjoy everything life has to offer.