Foot Care for Seniors

Male feets in a bowlOften we don’t realize it, but our feet are actually indicative of what’s going on with our entire body. A variety of health problems can cause foot problems. Poor circulation, diabetes, and arthritis are some of the common culprits. In the most severe cases, a small wound or infection left untreated can turn into a serious issue, especially if you have a pre-existing health condition.
Not to fear! Watching your feet carefully can prevent these complications. If you’re particularly concerned, having a foot inspection done by your family doctor or a podiatrist can be beneficial to catch any problems early. Depending on the level of the issue, your doctor may refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon or a dermatologist.

Here are some common problems to look out for:

Fungal and Bacterial Infections – Symptoms include burning, redness, or itching. Those with diabetes may be more susceptible to infection because of their high blood sugar and blood vessel damage. To avoid this, keep your socks dry and wash your feet with an antibacterial soap. If this persists for more than one week, see a doctor. If left untreated, infection can be more difficult to treat.

Dry Skin – This is quite common in many people and can cause a lot of discomfort, but it’s not usually a sign of any underlying condition. To remedy dry skin, try soaking your feet in warm soapy water and scrub your feet. Afterwards, apply a lotion that works for your skin. If you want to try something new, you can try Epsom salt for your feet. Studies have shown it can improve circulation and reduce inflammation.

Calluses and Corns – These are areas of thickened skin caused by friction. You can get better fitted shoes, although this may not be the source of the issue. Though you may be tempted to try and treat yourself with over the counter medicines, it’s actually best to talk to your doctor about it.

Warts – Warts are fungal infections which sometimes can be cured through over the counter treatments. If the problem persists, see your doctor.

Bunions – Bunions are caused by a misalignment of the toe joints causing extreme discomfort. Many times these don’t require medical treatment. However, if they are causing discomfort, or restriction of movement, or you are having problems finding properly fitting shoes, talk to your doctor.

Hammertoes – When the feet are constricted toes can curl back. This can be problematic for seniors because they can throw off your balance. Curb your risk by wearing properly fitted shoes. If you already suffer from hammertoes, talk to your doctor.

Heel Spurs – A heel spur is a calcium deposit on the heel which can cause pain. Some common treatments include anti-inflammatory medicine, cortisone injections, and exercise. If the problem persists, talk to your doctor.

To curb your risk of foot problems, keep the circulation going as much as possible. You can do this through the following:

  •  Avoiding long periods of sitting
  • If lying down, put your feet up
  • Taking a warm foot bath
  • Treating yourself to a foot massage
  • Avoid tight or uncomfortable shoes
  • Stretching on a regular basis
  • Exercising (like going for a walk)

Feet are an important part of the body not to be overlooked. Foot problems caught early significantly decreases the risk of complications, or can even warn you of an underlying condition. So, be sure to check!