It’s easy to take a part of the body for granted until something happens to it. It is a fundamental part of human nature—not really appreciating a thing, person or circumstance until it’s gone. Feet are no different. Until something goes awry, it’s natural to forget that every step you take is due, in large part, to your wonderful feet. According to Health In Aging, one in three people over the age of 65 have foot pain or stiffness. By helping your parent take care of their feet, their mobility and independence can be preserved into their aging years.
Feet as They Age
There are several changes that take place in feet as a normal part of aging. Years of use and those 5,000 steps a day that an average person takes wears away at joints and cartilage. Arthritis begins to develop, most commonly in the big toe and mid-way on top of the foot. The production of elastin and collagen decline, leaving the fat pads on the bottom of the feet thinning and the skin dry and fragile.
Hammertoes, corns and calluses are not uncommon and are often due to years of walking in high heels or pointy-toed shoes that displace the normal anatomy of the foot. Tendons lose some of their water content and ligaments stretch out leaving stiff ankles and feet as well as a diminished arch and flatter foot.
If your parent has a disease such as diabetes, diminished circulation and possible nerve damage can leave their feet particularly susceptible. Lack of feeling can lead to worsening infections and ulcers. Fungal infections in a toenail are common occurrences in the elderly as well, and are often due to diabetes, a lowered immune system, poor circulation, or obesity. Gout, a form of arthritis, often attacks the big toe and can lead to excruciating pain.
How You Can Help
- If your parent seems to be having trouble with their feet, make an appointment with a podiatrist. There are many conditions that can be treated effectively.
- Make sure they have good, supportive and well-fitting shoes. It is estimated that three out of four people over the age of 65 wear shoes that are too small for them.
- Extra weight means extra pressure on already overused feet. Help you parent stay on a healthy diet that maintains an appropriate weight by keeping healthy snacks such as precut vegetables and dip or fruit, nut butters and whole-grain crackers at their disposal.
- Maintain diet for diabetes or gout, if these are issues. And make sure they always have a glass of water by their side.
- While feet may certainly get their share of exercise, yoga for the feet—gentle stretches and range of motion exercises can help keep joints mobile and tendons loose.
- Inspect your parent’s feet regularly.
- Help their skin stay hydrated by applying a moisturizer designed for feet twice a day.
Home Care Provider
If your loved one needs assistance with the everyday activities of living, consider obtaining the services of a home care provider. They can help complete daily tasks as well as accompany your parent on walks, prepare healthy meals, and offer the companionship that is so important to those facing the changes that aging brings.
If you or an aging loved-one is considering in-home caregivers, please contact the caring staff at Assisting Hands Home Care at 215 882 8234.