Elderly Foot Health
Medicine and health awareness have progressed so rapidly since 1900 that life expectancy of the average person has increased by about 30 years. This increase in life expectancy also means 30 years of additional mileage for their feet.
If older people are to live useful, satisfying lives, they must be able to move about. Mobility is a vital ingredient of the independence that is cherished by our aging population, and foot ailments make it difficult or impossible for them to work or to participate in social activities.
According to the US National Center for Health Statistics, impairment of the lower extremities is a leading cause of activity limitation in older people. The NCHS also reports that one-fourth of all nursing home patients cannot walk at all, while another one-sixth can walk only with assistance.
Causes & Symptoms of Elderly Foot Issues
The human foot has been called the “mirror of health.” Foot doctors, or doctors of podiatric medicine (DPMs), are often the first doctors to see signs of such systemic conditions as diabetes, arthritis, and circulatory disease in the foot.
Symptoms of these health issues that can be found in feet include:
- dry skin
- brittle nails
- burning and tingling sensations
- feelings of cold, numbness, and discoloration
Always seek immediate professional care when these signs appear.
Even when foot pain and problems aren’t related to those large, overarching health issues, they can still lead to knee, hip, and lower back pain that undermine mobility just as effectively.
Prevention & Treatment of Geriatric Foot Pain
The first step in preventing future foot pain and issues, is to understand that pain in your feet is never “normal.” People should never resign themselves to enduring foot problems that are likely easily treatable.
There are more than 300 different foot ailments. Some can be traced to heredity, but for an aging population, most of these ailments stem from the cumulative effect of years of neglect or abuse. However, even among people in their retirement years, many foot problems can be treated successfully, and the pain of foot ailments relieved.
Whether due to neglect or abuse, the normal wear and tear through the years causes changes in feet. As persons age, their feet tend to spread, and lose the fatty pads that cushion the bottom of the feet. Additional weight can affect the bone and ligament structure. Older people, consequently, should have their feet measured for shoe sizes more frequently, rather than presuming that their shoe sizes remain constant. Dry skin and brittle nails are other conditions older people commonly face. Finally, it’s a fact that women, young and old, have four times as many foot problems as men, and high heels are often the culprits.
Observing preventive foot health care has many benefits. Chief among them are that it can increase comfort, limit the possibility of additional medical problems, reduce the chances of hospitalization because of infection, and lessen requirements for other institutional care.
Early examination and treatment of your feet by a podiatric physician is a key component of foot health as you age. For more information, contact us today to schedule an appointment.