Geriatric Foot Care

The life expectancy of the average American has increased by about 30 years.  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 participate in social activities.  

For reasons that are difficult to understand, many people, including many older people, believe that it is normal for the feet to hurt, and simply resign themselves to foot problems that could be treated.  

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.  As a person ages, 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 size more frequently.  

The human foot has been called the “mirror of health”.  Foot doctors, or doctors of podiatric medicine (DPM), are often the first doctors to see signs of such systemic conditions as diabetes, arthritis, and circulatory diseases in the foot.  Among the signs are dry skin, brittle nails, burning and tingling sensations, feelings of cold, numbness and discoloration.  

Inspect your feet every day or have someone do this for you.  If you notice any redness, swelling, cracks in the skin consult your podiatrist.  Always seek professional care when these signs appear.