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Foot Health: When Your Dogs Are Barking!


seniors walking to increase their foot health as they age.

Pretty, pink painted toenails not only look nice but can affect your mom’s quality of life. As we get older, our feet often get neglected and can become painful. Your mom may have more pressing health issues but the health of her feet can be a fall risk and impact her independence and mobility. Painful feet can affect balance, coordination, and gait. And no surprise, after enduring years teetering on high heels, women are four times more likely than men to experience foot discomfort. Foot health is an important part of a senior’s wellness program.

With age, and having logged thousands of miles, changes happen to your feet that will affect their comfort and health.   Some of these conditions include:

  • Increased stiffness in soft tissue
  • Feet tend to spread and flatten
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Loss of fatty cushion that pads the foot
  • Weaker muscle strength in the feet
  • More foot pronation (weight is on the inside of foot)
  • Development of corns, calluses, bunions, dry skin with cracks, and brittle or ingrown toenails
  • Diabetes, poor circulation, and arthritis can also negatively affect foot health and should regularly be seen by a doctor to avoid infection

One simple, first step is to measure your loved one’s feet for shoes. Are they wearing the correct shoe size? Their old shoes may no longer accommodate the changes in their feet. Properly fitted shoes can reduce friction that creates sores and pain while helping to improve posture and walking function.

Second, many seniors lose the flexibility to properly care for their feet. They may no longer be able to reach their toes. They may have poor eyesight that makes it harder to trim toenails or see changes in their feet. Some seniors may be embarrassed to ask for assistance. In this case, a pedicure may not only be indulgent, but necessary.   Seniors with diabetes or a heart condition should consult with their physician before getting a pedicure.

Our parents can stay mobile and maintain their independence with healthy feet. The best ways to support the health of your loved one’s feet:

  • Schedule an appointment with a podiatrist once a year
  • Regularly clean and bathe feet
  • Wear appropriate footwear; ditch the heels and thin, hard soled shoes
  • Wear shoes that fit correctly and alternate shoes
  • Check for any changes in the feet
  • Don’t walk around barefoot
  • Trim toenails
  • Stretch the muscles in the feet, exercise regularly, and keep walking
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • If diabetes is a factor, consider shoes that are extra-deep and extra-wide

Seniors should not have to endure foot pain. As with any concerns in their health, we recommend that you consult with their physician or seek the help of a specialist. A podiatrist can help determine the cause of their pain or discomfort and assist them in feeling better.