What Are Common Foot Problems In Older Adults
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What Are Common Foot Problems In Older Adults?

Foot problems become more common as people age. Standard foot issues in older adults include pain, neuropathy, corns, calluses, nail disorders, fat pad atrophy, bony deformities, such as hallux valgus (bunions) and hammertoe, Morton’s neuroma, toenail disorders, and flat feet. The dry skin, brittle nails, burning and tingling sensations, feelings of cold or numbness, and discoloration that can come with these problems can make life difficult.

Proper foot care involves wearing comfortable shoes that fit correctly and support the feet. Keeping feet clean and moisturized to avoid any infections or irritation and checking feet regularly for any changes in color or texture can prevent problems or help older adults identify issues early.

This article is informational, and seeking medical advice only from a doctor is essential.

1. Types of Common Foot Problems in Seniors

Several common foot problems can arise in older adults due to the natural aging process and general wear and tear on the feet. Some of the common foot problems in older adults include:

  1. Osteoarthritis: This is a degenerative joint disease that can affect the feet and lead to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. The risk of osteoarthritis increases after a lifetime of a foot injury, higher weights, and overuse, which makes it a particular issue for older adults.
  2.  Plantar fasciitis: Plantar fasciitis commonly develops in older adults. It is the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue connecting the heel bone to the toes. It causes heel pain and discomfort, especially in the morning or after periods of rest.
  3. Bunions: Both age and arthritis contribute to an increased risk of bunions for older adults. A bunion is a bony bump that forms at the base of the big toe, which can cause pain, swelling, and difficulty wearing shoes.
  4. Hammertoes: Hammertoes occur when the middle joint of a toe becomes permanently bent, resembling a hammer. This bending can cause pain, corns, and calluses. Sometimes, a hammertoe may need to be amputated, creating even more risks for older adults.
  5. Corns and calluses: These are areas of thickened and hardened skin that often develop on the toes and soles of the feet due to friction and pressure. This hardening produces pain and makes walking uncomfortable. Improper footwear can lead to friction, causing corns and calluses for seniors, even while doing simple activities.
  6. Foot and ankle sprains: Aging can decrease flexibility and stability, increasing the risk of spraining or twisting the foot or ankle. Seniors with foot and ankle sprains are at risk for falls and a lack of mobility.
  7. Peripheral neuropathy: This condition is characterized by nerve damage, often caused by diabetes or other health conditions that are common among older adults. It can result in numbness, tingling, or a loss of sensation in the feet, increasing the risk of foot injuries.
  8. Ingrown toenails: Ingrown toenails occur when the edges of the toenails grow into the surrounding skin, causing pain, redness, and swelling. Older adults may have difficulty trimming their nails properly, increasing the likelihood of this problem.
  9. Dry skin and fungal infections: Aging can lead to dryness and thinning of the skin, making the feet more susceptible to cracks and fissures. Fungal infections like athlete’s foot are common and can cause itching, burning, and skin peeling.
  10. Reduced blood circulation: Poor blood circulation can lead to various foot problems, such as slow healing of wounds, increased risk of infections, and the development of ulcers. However, this reduction in blood circulation is a natural part of the aging process that puts older adults at higher risk of these problems.
  11. Morton’s Neuroma: Morton’s Neuroma in older adults creates a thickening that almost resembles a tumor around the nerves in the feet. This attachment to the nerve causes pain and decreases mobility.

Older adults must maintain good foot hygiene, wear proper footwear, and seek medical attention for any persistent or worsening foot problems. Regular visits to a podiatrist can help prevent and manage these conditions effectively.

2. How You Can Help Someone with Foot Problems?

ow You Can Help Someone with Foot Problems

Helping  an elderly person with foot problems involves providing assistance and support in several ways. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Support regular medical check-ups: Oder adults can be encouraged to visit a podiatrist or healthcare provider regularly for foot check-ups and address any specific foot concerns. Driving seniors to these appointments or reminding them of their appointments can help.
  2. Encourage regular foot care: Proper foot care in older adults includes washing and drying the feet daily, trimming toenails correctly, and moisturizing dry skin. If necessary, in-home caregivers can offer to help them with these tasks or arrange for professional foot care services.
  3. Help with footwear selection: Comfortable shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning are the best footwear options for seniors. Accompanying an older adult to a shoe store specializing in fitting shoes for foot problems can help.
  4. Ensure proper foot hygiene: Setting up reminders to change their socks regularly and ensure their shoes are clean and dry is a great way to help. Breathable footwear and moisture-wicking socks can prevent fungal infections.
  5. Assist with foot exercises: Foot exercises recommended by their healthcare provider or physical therapist can help improve foot strength, flexibility, and circulation. Understanding the exercises can help caregivers provide guidance and support during the exercises if needed.
  6. Provide pain relief measures: When an older adult experiences foot pain, they may need help applying over-the-counter pain relieving creams, gels, or cold packs as directed. Medications their healthcare provider prescribes for pain management may need an experienced caregiver to deliver.
  7. Promote proper footwear storage and maintenance: A good organizational system for footwear ensures appropriate storage procedures. This system should include keeping shoes clean and dry to prevent moisture buildup and potential fungal growth.
  8. Assist with home modifications: Modifications to their living environment to minimize fall risks and promote foot health should be a caregiver’s priority. These changes may involve removing tripping hazards, installing handrails or grab bars, and ensuring adequate lighting.
  9. Offer emotional support: Foot problems can be frustrating and may impact an older adult’s mobility and overall well-being. Emotional support, empathy, and listening attentively to their concerns and experiences can help older adults feel supported as they age.
  10. Help with self-checks: Self-checks on the feet can identify issues early and help older adults know when to get to the doctor, especially if they are diabetic. Those with limited mobility may especially need help reaching or looking at specific areas on their feet.

Older adults must take care of their feet to promote their overall health. Senior foot care should be a part of any regular health plan. As people age, the toll of a lifetime of bad habits can begin to show. Using common sense procedures can help seniors stay active on their feet.

Seniors

1. Common Foot Problems In Aging Feet: What To Watch Out For – University Foot and Ankle Institute

2. Foot Problems in Older Adults – National Library of Medicine

3. Osteoarthritis – National Institute on Aging

4. Bunions: Not Just Another “Bump” in the Road of Aging – UPMC

5. Removal of the second toe for severe hammertoe deformity in elderly patients – National Library of Medicine

6. Morton’s Neuroma – Orthoinfo

7. Foot Problems – Healthinaging.org

8. Who Cares About Foot Care? Barriers and Enablers of Foot Self-care Practices Among Non-Institutionalized Older Adults Diagnosed With Diabetes: An Integrative Review

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