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Foot health and ageing

As our feet grow older, they naturally develop more problems. But painful and uncomfortable feet are not a natural part of growing old, or something to 'put up with'.

A lot can be done to Improve comfort, relieve pain and keep you on your feet for life.

Mirrors of health

The condition of our feet often provides early indications of conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and circulatory disease. For this reason, the human foot is sometimes called the ‘mirror of health’.

Look out for signs such as dry skin, brittle nails, burning and tingling sensations, feelings of cold, numbness and discolouration. Seek the opinion of your podiatrist when any of these signs occur.

Foot problems can be prevented

As we age, our feet tend to spread and lose the fatty pads that cushion the bottom of the feet, If we are carrying extra weight, this can also affect the bone and ligament structure.

Many people, including older people, believe that it is normal for feet to hurt, and imply resign themselves to enduring foot problems that could be treated.

There are more than 300 different foot conditions. Some are inherited, but for older people, most stem from the impact of years of use. However, even among people in their retirement years, many foot problems can tie treated successfully, and the pain of foot conditions relieved.

Older people should have their feet measured for shoe size more frequently, rather than presuming that their shoe size remains constant. Dry skin and brittle nails are other conditions older people commonly face.

Taking good care of your toot health has many benefits, including increasing your comfort, limiting the possibility of additional medical problems, reducing your chance of hospitalisation due to infection and keeping you active and mobile.

Keep on walking

Mobility can be a problem for older people, yet with basic foot care and prompt attention to any problems, getting around shouldn't be difficult.

Podiatrists in hospitals, community health centers, nursing homes and private practices provide services designed to help keep older people on their feet .

Nail Care

Keeping nails cut and under control will help keep you mobile. Yet a lot of elderly people find cutting to a problem, due to poor eyesight or difficulties in bending down.

If you can out them yourself, make sure you cut them so they are slightly curved just short of the end of the toe, using a strong pair of nail clippers. After clipping, smooth nails with a file or emery board, using downward strokes.

Your podiatrist will be able to cut even heavily overgrown or thick nails painlessly, and give advice on appropriate self-care.

Foot health tips

  • Properly fitted shoes are essential. The older you get, the more you need a shoe that holds your foot firmly in place and gives adequate support. Sloppy worn favourites, which can make you unstable, should be thrown out as they can lead to falls.

  • A shoe with a firm sole and soft upper that has an upper attachment is best for daily activities. Walking is good general exercise for most people's feet. If you have reduced circulatIon, diabetes or reduced fatty padding under your feet, avoid going barefoot, even in your own home.

  • Never cut corns and calluses with a razor, pocket knife or other such instruments and don't use over-the-counter corn products as they may do more harm than good, unless they have been recommended to you by your podiatrist.

  • Bathe your feet daily in lukewarm (not hot) water using a mild soap, then use a moisturiser separately.

  • Trim or file your toenails so they are slightly curved just short of the end of the toe.

  • Inspect your feet every day, or have someone do this for you If you notice any redness, cracks in the skin or sores then consult your podiatrist.

  • Have your feet examined by a podiatrist at least once a year.


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