Our feet will carry us around 110,000 miles over the course of our lifetime – that’s 216,262,500 steps! It’s truly no surprise that as we age, our feet may start to see a range of challenges. Examples of the more widespread foot issues for older adults include:
- Arthritis: Osteoarthritis affects a number of joints in the body, and the feet are not an exception. Women are more prone to be diagnosed with arthritis as they age – 16% of senior women as opposed to 10% of senior men. Additional risk factors include former injury to the foot or ankle, obesity, bunions, and hammertoe.
- Gout: A specific type of arthritis, gout is an autoimmune disease that may cause terrible pain as a result of accumulated uric acid crystals encompassing a joint, usually presenting first in the big toe.
- Dry Skin: Left untreated, dry skin on the feet can cause pain when walking, and allow bacteria to be introduced, leading to the possibility for an infection in the feet. Applying moisturizer on the feet regularly as a protective measure before skin gets cracked can help.
- Flat Feet: Arising from stretched ligaments which may take place in aging, this condition produces pain and swelling in the arch of the foot and inner ankle, and in some cases in the lower back, hip and knee as well. Flat feet may cause seniors to have balance and stability problems and increase the risk of sprains to the feet and ankles.
- Seborrheic Keratosis: Often known as stucco keratosis, this problem causes lesions to show up on the tops of the ankles, feet, and/or toes that may be mistaken for warts. Although not painful, these lesions may cause itching and irritation, particularly when shoes are worn.
- Toenail Changes: As we grow older, toenails thicken and become more brittle, which makes them more challenging to clip. Nails may also change in color and develop ridges and cracks.
- Circulation: Edema (built-up fluids), prescription side effects, diabetes along with other circumstances can cause circulation problems for older adults. Swelling, numbness and tingling in the feet and legs are common signs of circulatory issues.
- Shortened Achilles Tendon: The Achilles (and other tendons) can lose water in aging, which can shorten them while making them significantly less flexible, more susceptible to tears or ruptures and contribute to a flatfooted gait.
Any changes in your older loved one’s feet should be brought to the attention of a primary care physician. It’s also a good idea to schedule routine appointments with a podiatrist, who will provide senior nail care and keep a close watch for any potential problems.
Compassionate Nursing Services can help in a variety of ways to ensure healthy senior feet, such as:
- Senior transportation to doctor appointments
- Ensuring proper nutrition and hydration
- Encouraging safe, doctor-authorized physical activity
- Assessing the house for senior fall risks
- And much more