One in four seniors battles with chronic foot problems. Aside from the discomfort, foot pain leads to problems with mobility and balance. And that can lead to falls. The good news is that there’s a simple solution.
Why do why foot problems increase as we grow older?
There are two main reasons why foot problems increase in seniors:
- Loss of cushioning. As we grow older, we lose some of the fat padding that covers the bones of our feet.
- Lessening of blood circulation. Blood circulation to our feet decreases as we get older. This causes our skin and nails to become thinner and drier. It also means that injuries will heal more slowly.
Risk factors for foot problems
People who have diabetes are more at risk for foot problems because uncontrolled diabetes can damage the nerves. This means that a diabetic may not feel heat, cold, or pain. Additionally, diabetes also affects the flow of blood. Without good blood flow, it takes longer for an injury to heal.
People who are obese suffer from foot problems because extra weight puts pressure on the bones and tissues of the foot.
Women are more at risk than men for foot problems. And that’s because of the shoes that they wear. Narrow toe boxes lead to toe deformities. Think of bunions where the big toe bends towards the other toes and the joint becomes red and painful. High heels alter the position and motion of the foot and ankle. The shift often causes musculoskeletal pain. However, as women get older and wiser, they focus more on comfort and practicality and often kick those heels off…to the benefit of their feet.
What Are The Foot Problems Seniors Commonly Face?
Ingrown toenails happen when a sharp piece of nail pierces the skin surrounding the nail bed. Since some seniors find it hard to reach their toes and may have vision trouble, keeping their toe nails trimmed correctly can be challenging.
If you put too much pressure on your feet by wearing shoes that don’t give proper support, standing too long, or being overweight, calcium deposits can build up on your heel. These can hurt. You can get some relief with heel cups or heel pads.
If your toe doesn’t have enough wiggle room, the knuckle can become inflamed and draw the toe back. Hammertoes are especially problematic for seniors because they can affect balance and raise the risk of falls.
Corns and calluses
A corn is a build-up of hard skin near a bony area of a toe or between the toes. They are caused by pressure from shoes that rub against your toes or cause friction between your toes. A callus is a build-up of hard skin on the bottom of your foot. You might find that a corn plaster containing 40% salicylic acid can help you.
A nail infection is caused by fungus or yeast. s, or NDMs. Nail infections will discolor your nails (usually the toe nails) and make them crumble. Getting rid of them is a difficult, lengthy and expensive process. .
Sadly many seniors battling foot problems accept the pain as part of the ageing process. But there’s a simple solution.
Change your shoes
Between 26 and 50% of older people wear shoes that are too narrow or too short. Why are they wearing uncomfortable shoes? One reason is that they are following the fashion. The second reason, which you probably don’t know, is that as you age, your feet grow a tiny bit longer. So changing shoes is the simple solution.