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Take care of your feet

Created date

May 10th, 2017
Doctor adapts insole to foot shape

When we think about which parts of our body are most important, we rarely think of our feet. We are much more likely to consider the heart or the brain, yet our feet are the body’s foundation. 

We count on them each and every day, and maintenance of good foot health and prevention of foot injury and illness are important to our well-being. For instance, maintaining and taking care of your feet helps prevent falls. In one Australian study of 305 seniors with foot pain, a podiatry program, including treatment, exercise, and footwear adjustments, reduced the risk of falling by 36%. Just wearing shoes reduces your risk of falling elevenfold compared to walking barefoot or in your socks! Foot pain, toe limitations, and weakness also increase your risk of falls, so good podiatric care and exercise for feet and ankles are of high value.

Simple foot care

As we get older, minor foot problems, such as blisters, calluses, or corns are also more likely to occur, and simple daily care can often prevent complications. Check your feet for redness, swelling, blisters, calluses, or cuts. Wash your feet with a mild soap and warm—not hot—water.  Keep them moisturized by applying a small amount of lotion to the tops and bottoms of your feet—but not between your toes because too much moisture can lead to skin breakdown and infection. Finally, make sure your feet stay warm and don’t get too hot or cold.

If you have a medical condition such as diabetes, cardiovascular, or nerve disease, you should pay attention to your feet as you may not even be aware of a problem until it is fairly far along. This is particularly true of diabetics who may have nerve damage or neuropathy, which can cause reduced sensation, numbness, and weakness in the legs and feet. In addition, the nerves that regulate oil and moisture may malfunction, leading to very dry skin, which also increases the chance of skin breakdown. As a further insult to the health of your feet, diabetes can cause decreased blood flow due to narrowing and a loss of flexibility of blood vessels.  

One of the best things you can do, especially if you have diabetes, is add a podiatrist to your health care team. They are experts at taking care of your feet. Along with keeping up with any possible wounds, they can make sure your shoes are fitting properly and prescribe orthotics if necessary. Even if you see a podiatrist, a foot check should be part of your physical examination at your doctor’s office.

The good news is that good foot health is achievable by following the simple prevention measures outlined above. If you are experiencing foot pain or just have questions about your shoes or how to cut your toenails, please consider a visit to a podiatrist. Having healthy feet will help you stay healthy all over!

 


 

Matt Narrett, M.D., is chief medical officer for Erickson Living and leads the medical team at all Erickson Living communities. He received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School and has been providing care for seniors for over three decades. 

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