With a third of people over the age of 65 experiencing problems with their feet, there is a clear link between ageing and foot-health. There are a number of different problems older people can experience with their feet, and just as many reasons as to why this happens. In this blog, we will look at some of the most common issues people experience, and what to do about them.
How we look after our feet throughout our lives plays a large part in how healthy they are when we are older. You can’t simply buy a new pair of shoes after a lifetime of wearing the wrong kind, so investing in proper footwear as early as possible is key. Our feet also become far less flexible as we age, so problems like curved toes or fallen arches can be difficult to fix.
Proper footwear is essential to addressing many of these issues. Getting a shoe that has good arch support is important, as is making sure the shoe actually fits. Too many people buy shoes that are too tight, which can lead to problems like hammertoe or bunions, while others choose loose fitting shoes that can result in fallen arches or calluses. You should have a little wriggle-room at the top of your shoes, but they should generally be quite firm on your feet. As we typically tend to lose weight in our feet as we grow older, you should also go for shoes that provide plenty of cushioning to protect your bones.
Another major way that ageing affects our feet is through reduced circulation. Our circulation generally decreases as we age, and as our feet are both near the ground and far away from our hearts, they are among the most-affected body parts. Reduced circulation means the feet are less capable of healing, and any problems that appear can last longer.
Walking regularly, taking foot baths, elevating your feet with a footstool, and avoiding shoes & socks that are too tight are all ways you can work on promoting good circulation in your feet. This will help keep away many minor problems, heal faster, and avoid numbness in the feet, which can lead to falling.
Arthritis can be a major problem when it comes to foot health, as there are 33 joints in each foot. This means that people who suffer from arthritis may feel a lot of pain in their feet, which can have knock-on effects for the rest of the body. Feeling pain when we walk causes us to change how we walk, which can cause pain to radiate upwards through our bodies. By stepping in a certain way, we may be inadvertently causing ourselves to hunch, or placing too much strain on our knees, for example. This can lead to a lot of complications, and is the kind of issue that will not go away on its own. For these reasons, visiting a foot specialist and examining your pain together in detail is the best way to avoid any extra pain. Each case is different, but they will likely advise you on how to walk, what footwear to wear, and may also prescribe some creams or pills to help with the pain as well.
Foot problems are simply a reality of getting older, but how soon you address them and how well you look after your feet will change how old they feel. Many of these small problems can be easy to ignore or ‘walk off’ at first, but your feet are an essential part of maintaining your quality of life, so take care of them as best you can.