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Older feet

As a podiatrist I often see a lot of older patients with problems with their feet. (And not just because they can’t reach them!)

Older feet naturally develop more problems because the skin tends to thin with age and lose its elasticity. This means any knock or bump is far more likely to cause an injury.  Once an injury has developed healing can take longer and can sometimes develop into ulcers particularly if the circulation is poor.  We also develop wear and tear to the joints in our feet sometimes due to footwear or occupation. This can then develop into some degree of arthritis. This can be painful, reduce mobility and change the shape of our feet meaning footwear is difficult to find. We can also develop damaged, thickened or even fungal nails as we get older which can be very difficult to cut.

But painful and uncomfortable feet aren’t a natural part of growing old or something to “put-up with”. A lot can be done to improve comfort, relieve pain and maintain mobility and it’s never too late to start looking after your feet!

Keeping toenails cut correctly – This will help keep you mobile. You may need to see a podiatrist to help you with this. If your nails are too thick to cut the podiatrist can thin these down to aid comfort and mobility.

Keeping warm – Try to keep your feet as warm as possible, but please don’t cook them in front of the fire! Thick or well insulated stockings or socks can help. Avoid anything too tight which can restrict your circulation or cramp your toes. Wearing fleece-lined boots or shoes or even an extra pair of socks will also keep you warm but do make sure your shoes aren’t tight as a result. Bed socks are also a good idea.

Choosing the best footwear – The older you get, the more you need a shoe which holds your foot firmly in place to give adequate support. The most common cause of falls in the elderly is poor fitting footwear and sloppy slippers! 

Look for shoes with uppers made of soft leather or a stretchy man-made fabric which is also breathable. Choose shoes with a cushioning or shock absorbing sole to give you extra comfort while walking. You should choose a shoe with a fastening such as a lace-up or Velcro fastening shoe which will give more support and comfort than a slip-on. 

Our feet change size and shape throughout our lives. When was the last time you got your feet measured? Choose a reputable shoe shop to measure your feet as you do not want a shoe too big or too tight! Avoid wearing slippers in the house as these offer very little support. Instead choose a lightweight indoor shoe with a fastening. This will reduce the chance of falls.

If you suffer with swollen feet, it’s a good idea to put your shoes on as soon as you wake up, before your feet have had a chance to swell. Many companies’ now sell shoes with extra wide fittings or Velcro extensions for swollen feet. 

Exercise– This can help to keep feet healthy – it tones up muscles which help to strengthen arches and stimulates blood circulation. If appropriate try walking a little way every day.

At 21st Century clinic in Reading, Berkshire I run a clinic on a Friday where I offer a £10 discount to anyone over 65. So if you or anyone you know requires advice or help with their feet please call the clinic on 0118 9311 444 to get booked in.