Did you know that our two feet together have 52 bones and 66 joints? And that doesn’t count all the muscles and tendons needed to carry our weight upright and in balance. It’s a lot to ask of two little feet!
Natural changes of the feet
With advancing years, the padding of the feet gets thinner, joints get stiffer, and arches flatten out. These are normal changes of aging. Since the feet are the basis for walking, and problems with the feet contribute greatly to falls, it’s important to be sure that your relative’s feet get the attention they deserve.
At Senior Life Management, we notice that in the hubbub of all the other elder care issues, foot care often goes by the wayside. On the one hand, it’s easy to take feet for granted. On the other, making foot care a weekly routine can be a very tender and caring exchange with your relative.
To maintain foot health,
- do a weekly soak. Begin by soaking the feet in warm water softened with Epsom salts. Afterward, dry the feet thoroughly. Then massage in skin cream or lotion.
- inspect for problems. Check for ingrown nails, cuts, hot spots, redness, or swelling once a week. If your relative has diabetes, check daily! Put a hand mirror on the floor to readily check the soles of the feet. Diabetics often lose sensation in their feet and can develop sores and infections without realizing it. These infections can lead to the need for amputation, which is why it’s so critical to check every day.
- be sure socks and shoes fit well. Be careful that socks don’t bunch up in shoes. Are socks so tight they leave dents in the calf? Have shoe size checked by a podiatrist or in the store. Try new shoes on at the end of the day, when feet are apt to be swollen. There should be a half-inch of space between the longest toe and the end of the shoe’s toe box. Don’t assume new shoes will stretch out.
- avoid walking barefoot. With the thinning of the foot pads, it’s hard on the bones to walk without shoes. Keep cushy, nonslippery shoes for wearing around the house.
- seek professional support. Have a podiatrist or other trained healthcare professional evaluate your relative’s feet, especially if there is pain. Treatment may be as simple as a new pair of shoes.
Nails are also a concern
Nails are the archeological record of foot health. And even nutritional health. Check out our article about nail care in this month’s issue of our newsletter for family caregivers.
Not sure what to do?
There’s certainly a lot to do when caring for an aging loved one. As the Orange County experts in aging well, we can help guide you through all the areas that need attention. Give us a call at 949-716-1266. You don’t have to do this alone!