Wellness Wednesdays: foot care

Image: Wellness Wednesdays: foot care

In this edition of Wellness Wednesdays, we look at common foot problems among seniors and tips for healthy foot care!

Common Foot Problems in Seniors

According to the Canadian Foot Clinic & Orthotic Centre, seniors often suffer from the following foot problems:

  • Athlete’s Foot—a fungal infection that thrives in warm, dark, moist areas
  • Dry Skin
  • Corns and Calluses—painful sores that arise on the skin
  • Heel Spurs—calcium deposits that can form on your heel and cause considerable pain
  • Hammertoes—when a toe doesn’t have room to move, the knuckle can swell and draw the toe back.
  • Ingrown toenails—occur when a sharp piece of nail pierces the skin.

How can seniors take better care of their feet?

Foot problems are especially common in the elderly, for a variety of reasons. Feet lose cushioning as they age, and the skin and nails grow dry and brittle. Many seniors have poor circulation, and this can slow the healing of foot sores as well.

Here are some suggestions to help you or your loved one practice healthy footcare:

  • Find comfortable shoes that fit well—keep in mind that feet can become wider in your later years, so you should always have them measured before buying new shoes.
  • Avoid tight or high-heeled shoes that put unnecessary pressure on the foot
  • Keep your blood flowing freely—improve circulation by stretching, walking, and other exercises, and avoid wearing tight socks or sitting too long with your legs crossed.
  • Avoid smoking—tobacco narrows the arteries and can affect blood flow.
  • Wash your feet every day and dry them carefully—drying between your toes and elsewhere will help you prevent problems such as athlete’s foot.

How should seniors with diabetes care for their feet?

For individuals with diabetes, foot problems can pose serious health threats. This is because diabetes often damages the blood vessels that direct blood to the feet, and in many cases, minor foot injuries can become life-threatening.

If you or your loved one has diabetes, you will need to be extra vigilant about foot care. Here are some tips from the Canadian Diabetes Association for maintaining healthy feet:

  • Take care of your diabetes—keep your blood glucose in your target range
  • Keep your feet clean—wash them every day in warm water and dry them carefully
  • Use moisturizer—avoid letting your skin dry out
  • Check your feet every day—call your doctor promptly if you have a cut, scrape, blister or bruise that doesn’t start to heal within one day
  • Always wear socks and shoes while walking around—going barefoot invites minor injuries that may not heal properly
  • Keep the blood flowing—when your feet get tired, sit down and elevate them for a while, wiggle your toes and ankles a few times each day, don’t cross your legs for long periods, and above all, do not smoke.

Spectrum Health Care offers a variety of diabetes and foot care related services. Learn more about the services available by clicking here.

Don’t miss next week’s edition of Wellness Wednesdays where we look at tips for staying physically active as you or your loved one ages!