A key to independence is the ability to move about unassisted, but for thousands of older people, foot and ankle problems may prevent pain-free mobility. In fact, the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics reports that lower extremity impairments-like ailments of the feet and ankles-are ranked as the top cause of activity limitation for older adults.
Although heredity is to blame for some foot conditions, many foot ailments are the product of a lifetime of over-stressed and neglected feet. But your feet don't need to hurt, and many of the over 300 different foot ailments may be treated or even prevented.
Make your feet a priority
Make caring for your feet part of your regular routine, and your should enjoy no limits to your activities or exercise. Here are a few simple guidelines that people of all ages will benefit from:
- Wash and dry your feet carefully each day, inspecting them for any changes such as redness, swelling, sores, or cracks.
- As we age, our toenails thicken; if you can't cut yours straight across by yourself, see a professional for help.
- See a professional for relief from corns and calluses, which are common among older adults.
- Make sure your shoes fit properly, and that you wear the correct shoes and socks for each activity.
- Shop for new shoes in the afternoon or evening, when feet are at their largest.
- Stretch and be active each day to maintain proper circulation.
- As you age, have your foot size checked regularly, since feet spread and may even slightly change in their structure over the years.
- Make an appointment with your podiatric physician at least twice a year.