Made up of 26 bones (¼ of all the bones in your body), 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments – feet are a marvel in physiological architecture. But, as with everything else, time takes its toll on the feet…
What Happens To our Feet As We Age?
As we age, the tendons and ligaments lose their elasticity and no longer hold the bones and joints together like they used to, which leads to fallen arches and a wider forefoot. Interestingly, this makes the feet one of the few things that doesn’t shrink as you get older – infact, some people over the age of 40 can gain up to half a shoe size every 10 years.
The fatty pad underneath the ball of the foot starts to wear down too, so there is less cushioning in the feet, which causes discomfort and can be the cause of problematic corns and calluses developing.
Years of wearing high heeled or ill-fitting shoes may have caused the development of hammer toes and other disfigurement of the feet and toes, which would exacerbate any arthritic problems you may be suffering as a result of age.
Although neuropathy can develop at any age, it is most prevalent among the elderly, and if it is not properly treated, neuropathy can cause all sorts of serious problems in your feet.
Should You Expect Sore And Painful Feet in Old Age?
The short answer to that is – no. Painful, sore feet are not a natural part of the ageing process. A lot can be done to prevent problems, relieve pain and improve mobility.
Check your feet for changes: Get into a routine of inspecting your feet daily; using a mirror might help. If you experience sudden pain, changes in colour, swelling, or infection, see a posditrsts.
Nourish your skin on a daily basis: It is very important to nourish your skin on a daily basis. Use a thick lotion or cream on your legs and feet, taking care that you don’t slip when it is applied to the soles of your feet. Nails become thicker and more brittle as we get older. This combined with a less efficient blood supply can make toenail cutting more difficult and less safe, so let your poditrists cut them correctly for you.
Ensure you wear the correct style of footwear: Purchase shoes in the afternoon or evening. This is when your feet tend to be most swollen. Purchase shoes with a lace or velcro strap so they are held securely to your feet. Leather is the best material for the upper of your shoes. Avoid plastic shoes as they won’t stretch to accommodate your feet. A cushioning insole can be an added comfort, but be sure that there is enough space in the shoe to accommodate it. Remember, when you buy a pair of shoes, you should not have to “break them in”. They need to be comfortable at the point of purchase or you may end up with blisters and sores.
Regular Exercise: Ageing feet need regular exercise to tone muscles, strengthen the arches and stimulate circulation. Try to exercise every day.
If you are young or able and have an elderly relative or friend who is infirm, make sure you check their feet as often as possible and assist them with any of the above. Many neglected feet stay hidden withn shoes, where unseen problems may fester.
At Healthy Steps Podiatry, we provide top quality podiatry services for many rest homes and retirement villages around Auckland. We use sterilized equipment for each resident and can write patients notes if required. We often treat high risk patients such as those with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes and Huntington’s disease, as well as patients in Auckland Hospital. Our standard is excellent and we strive to maintain high patient satisfaction.
If you would like to book individual appointments or are interested in having us come and look after your rest home, please contact us on: 0800 MY FOOT (0800 693 668)