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Blog Feature

By: Marissa Salvesen on April 22nd, 2014

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Common Foot Problems for Aging Adults

assisted living | Aging & Caregiving

common-foot-problemsMany older adults struggle with foot pain. In fact, one out of every three people over the age of 65 has pain, stiffness or aching in their feet. While many conditions, including diabetes, arthritis and cardiovascular disease, can make these problems worse, those struggling with foot pain are looking for relief.

Preventing common foot problems begins first with awareness. Identifying and monitoring what is causing pain in your feet can prevent further damage and provide pain relief more quickly.

Common Foot Problems

  • Bunions – A bunion occurs when an individual has a bony growth or misaligned bone at the bottom of the big toe. This can cause the big toe to begin growing crookedly toward the small toe. The bone itself can be quite painful.
  • Hammertoes – When the toe joints begin to curl up or under, your loved one may be experiencing hammertoe. This movement can lead to a joint that is permanently dislocated, and can be quite painful.
  • Problems with Toenails – Many foot problems can be linked back to problems with the toenails. When seniors can no longer reach their toes easily, they may not be able to care for their toenails as they once did. This neglect can lead to thickened, discolored toenails, toenail fungus and even painful ingrown toenails.
  • Arthritis – Arthritis can be the cause of painful, swollen feet. Rheumatoid arthritis and gout can cause the feet to become deformed, making every step painful.
  • Diabetes – Diabetes can disrupt circulation to the feet or inhibit feeling in the feet. Patients with diabetes may also have ulcers on their feet that will not heal.

Solutions for Preventing These Foot Problems

If you or your aging loved one is struggling with one of these common foot problems, it is time to take action. Painful feet can make normal tasks excruciatingly difficult, limit mobility, and restrict independence, often resulting in the use of a wheelchair for older adults.

First make sure any underlying conditions are well controlled. While there may not be a cure for diabetes and arthritis, if each individual’s condition can be well-controlled using medications, it may help prevent future foot problems.

Next, take a look at the individual's shoes. Supportive shoes are essential to ward off foot problems. Consider talking to a podiatrist about the proper footwear for your loved one's foot shape or helping your loved one get fitted for an orthopedic shoe. Inserts can also be useful in providing better support. Most importantly, be sure that your loved one makes the choice to wear the proper shoes, whether they are at home and just “around the house,” out for a walk, or in and out throughout the day.

Finally, encourage your loved one to practice good foot hygiene. Regular toenail clipping and proper foot washing can help ward off some of these problems. If these tasks have become difficult for your loved one, consider visiting a podiatrist for help and guidance. Visiting nurse services may also be available to help with foot care and some local senior centers also offer occasional foot clinics. Many podiatrists also regularly visit assisted living communities to see patients, which can be convenient for both you and your loved one.

If those tactics do not help to alleviate foot problems, then it's time to call in a specialist. Make an appointment with a podiatrist to find a solution that will help keep your loved one active and independent.

            United Methodist Homes- Essential Caregiver's Guide        

About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

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