Don’t Neglect your Feet – They’re the Only Pair You Have
By Pamela D. Wilson, CSA, MS, BS/BA, CG
Our feet are two of the most important body parts we have. They carry us wherever we want to go, yet many of us give them the least amount of attention, especially when we become older. Only when feet hurt or prevent us from walking easily do we give them proper attention.
As we age our flexibility lessens. It becomes more physically difficult to bend and reach our feet. Our toenails become thicker and more difficult to trim, so we ignore them. We walk barefoot, wear shoes that do not fit properly and bathe less. We grow calluses on our feet because of improperly fitting shoes.
For persons with diabetes, foot care is even more important due to loss of feeling and poor circulation. An injury may exist and go unnoticed. Persons with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia simply forget about foot care. Many older adults do not want anyone to see their feet because they’re in such poor condition. Others cannot walk distances because of corns, calluses or ingrown toenails that have not received proper attention.
Protecting our feet is important if we wish to remain mobile and active. Basic care includes washing feet daily with soap and water, and drying thoroughly especially between the toes. Dry skin can be remedied by applying moisturizing cream immediately after bathing. Wearing clean socks that absorb moisture in addition to wearing the correct shoes is important.
Improperly fitting shoes will make any foot pain worse. Areas reddened from wearing shoes, corns, calluses and ingrown toenails are signs that feet may need professional care. A regular appointment with a podiatrist can avoid many foot problems. There are even nurses who will come to the home to perform foot care. There are foot care clinics on a monthly basis at some senior centers.
It’s important not only to care for our own feet but for the people for whom we provide care. Make foot care a special event by having a “spa” day once a week where feet are soaked, nails trimmed and feet massaged and lotioned. This will support continued mobility and avoid possible issues of infection. If you have parents offer to check their feet and provide care or hire someone who will do this for you.
© 2012, 2013 Pamela D. Wilson, All Rights Reserved.