Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Foot Care for the Elderly Part 2

Loss of mobility caused by foot related conditions is one of the biggest problems that many older people face. While the effects of age cannot be totally eradicated, with proper care the effect of aging on mobility can be minimized and controlled. Ideally a foot care plan should be developed after a complete check of the condition of the feet and any other health related issues that may affect them. This means that regular foot checkups by a podiatrist are important. Persistent or chronic pain or other foot problems should never be ignored.

Besides wearing well-fitting shoes and regular foot checkups, there are a few other simple precautions that can help to protect aging feet.

Foot Health – Tips for Aging Feet
  • Besides shoes that fit well, support is another important factor. Old well-worn shoes may be comfortable, but that does not mean that they are good for your feet. Do not hesitate to get rid of worn out shoes. Besides fitting properly, your shoes should have a firm sole and a soft upper. If you do a lot of walking or are on your feet for long periods, wear walking shoes or those that will give you any extra support you need.
  • Exercise is important for keeping your feet healthy. Walking is the simplest and best way to do this. If you have any medical conditions that may be affected by walking, consult a medical practitioner before starting a regular walking regimen.
  • Wear thick absorbent cotton socks that allow your feet to breathe.
  • Pantyhose and stockings should not be too tight as this can affect blood circulation. Wearing designs that do not have seams will be more comfortable.
  • If garters are used, these too should not be so tight as to affect circulation.
  • Corns and calluses are common complaints. Because of this it is easy to make the mistake of treating them casually. Cutting them off with a knife or other instrument can make the condition worse as well as opening the door to other foot problems. It is advisable to consult a podiatrist before using an over the counter callus removal product. They are not all the same and using one that is best suited for you is important. There are also conditions where their use may be contraindicated.
  • Feet should be thoroughly washed once a day in lukewarm (not hot) water. A mild soap is usually best. If the soap does not contain moisturizers or if the feet become dry after washing, a moisturizer should be massaged into the skin.
  • Trim your toe nails regularly and cut them straight across. If cutting them yourself is difficult or if some nails are overgrown or too thick to cut, consult a podiatrist. The doctor will be able to either cut these nails or work with you to find a solution you can apply yourself.
  • Inspect your feet carefully every few days for any injury or signs of discoloration or changes in the condition.  Visible changes to the feet are often observable before other symptoms show themselves. If you cannot check your feet yourself, have someone do it for you.
  • Have your feet examined by a podiatrist every 6 months or at least once a year.
Age affects everyone. But, it should not be a reason for pain or a loss of mobility. The earlier a foot condition is diagnosed and treatment begun, the g the chances of success and the faster the recovery.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Foot Care for the Elderly Part 1

As the body ages, it is subjected to continuous wear and tear which increases the probability of developing health issues. This is accepted as a part of growing old. Modern medicine and the understanding of the need to adopt a healthy lifestyle have enabled people to reduce the effects of aging and control the problems associated with it. One part of the body that is often ignored in this process is the feet. Because of the stress they are constantly subjected to, foot pain and problems often start at a relatively young age. Because of this many people presume that foot problems are a natural and almost automatic part of the aging process. This need not be so. With proper foot care, discomfort and loss of mobility can be prevented or at least reduced to a minimum.

Mirrors of health

Our feet are far more sensitive than we realize. Because to the way they cope with the load, stress and often misuse they are subjected to, we tend to take them for granted. But the feet often provides the first indication of medical conditions affecting other parts of the body. For example, the early signs of arthritis, diabetes and circulatory problems often appear first in the feet. Examining your feet regularly to look for any changes becomes increasingly important as you grow older. The common changes in the feet that could be an indication of health issues include numbness, feeling cold, discoloration, dry skin, burning or tingling sensations, dry and brittle nails. If you experience any of these or other sudden changes in the condition of your feet, it is essential that you contact a podiatrist who will be able to tell you if it is a normal age related change or a condition that requires investigation and treatment.

Preventing Foot Problems

Besides the pain and discomfort that they can cause, foot problems can also affect your mobility. And this can have a major impact on the quality of your life. Caring for your feet can prevent this. As we age, our feet tend to become wider and the fatty cushion at the bottom of the feet becomes thinner. Any extra body weight places unwanted stress on the bones and ligaments of the feet which is another common reason for foot problems. Many elderly people accept painful feet as a part of life. They resign themselves to this as just another age related condition they have to live with. There are over 300 different foot conditions. Some of these are genetic, but in many cases they are caused by years of use and often a lack of care of the feet. An inherited condition may show itself only later in life. Whatever the cause of the foot problem, it can be treated irrespective of age. The critical factor is to consult a foot specialist as soon as a foot problem develops. Many seemingly minor conditions such as calluses and dry skin can be treated at home with over the counter medication. But if the treatment does not help within a reasonable period of time, it is always better to consult a podiatrist. The earlier a problem is diagnosed and treated, the greater the chances of a quick and comprehensive cure.

One big mistake many elderly people make is to presume that their foot size, which remained same for so many years, will continue to do so. As mentioned previously, the broadening of the feet may call for wearing broader shoes to prevent pain and other complications. It is advisable to check your foot size each time you buy shoe and to discard any that have become uncomfortable to wear.