May is International Foot Health Awareness Month and podiatrists are promoting the importance of healthy feet for a healthy life. Proper foot care is vital for seniors but may often be overlooked as a minor concern. Healthy feet are literally the foundation of well-being. If your feet are sore or injured, it can affect overall health, mobility, activity level and cause serious health concerns.
Proper foot care is not the same as a cosmetic pedicure, chiropody is an important component of health care for seniors who may not be able to reach their toes to properly (and safely) trim nails or check for wounds, plantar warts, fungal nails or ingrown toe nails.
There are free chiropody clinics available in many communities for seniors over 55, those with physical disabilities and individuals with type 2 diabetes. Check with your health care provider to learn more. Foot problems can be a sign of serious medical conditions including arthritis, nerve disorders, diabetes and circulatory problems. Discuss concerns with your doctor early before the symptoms become worse.
Peripheral neuropathy, most commonly caused by diabetes mellitus, can result in numbness, weakness or pain in the the hands and feet. Chemotherapy, infection or trauma can also cause these symptoms that make it difficult to care for the feet and without proper sensation, dangerous. When your feet are numb, you can sustain injury without noticing and this can lead to serious infection.
Tips for Healthy Feet
- Put feet up when sitting to improve circulation.
- Check feet daily, especially those with diabetes, for cuts, blisters and ingrown toenails (use a mirror if you can’t reach)
- Wash and thoroughly dry feet daily – try using a non-talc power to keep feet dry
- Wear supportive, solid, well-fitted shoes, avoiding heels
- Do not try to shave corns or calluses yourself, use a pumice or see your doctor
- Check with a doctor if you have a sore than does not heal quickly, those with diabetes and peripheral artery disease can be prone to poor blood flow and infection
To learn more about the importance of good foot health and common foot conditions visit the Ontario Podiatric Medical Association at http://www.opma.ca/Foot-Health-Month and in the US visit the American Podiatric Medical Association.