Did you know a typical, moderately active person will have walked more than 100,000 miles by age 80? That’s enough to circle the globe four times!
Regardless of age, we all need our feet to be in good shape, because we depend on them every day to carry us where we need to go. As we age, however, feet may need extra care to stay in good, working shape. If you’re the primary caregiver to an older adult, the responsibility may fall on you to ensure that mom or dad’s feet remain as healthy and strong as possible.
Your Starting Point: The Foot Inspection
With age, circulation slows and nerve function may be reduced, especially if there is a diabetes diagnosis. Mobility and eyesight may also be compromised. Because of these factors, your mom or dad may not be able to tell by themselves when something is wrong.
When you visit, make sure you perform a quick foot inspection. Use your eyes and your hands to scan for cuts, bruises, dry skin, sores, ingrown or fungal toenails, temperature irregularities, or other problems or injuries.
Daily Care Needs
Keeping feet clean, moisturized, and protected from injury should be part of any senior citizen’s daily routine. Again, if your parent is unable to perform these tasks themselves, you may need to provide assistance.
To learn more about daily basic home care for senior feet—and why it’s so important—you can find a lot of helpful information on this webpage.
The Next Steps: What to Do if There’s a Problem
Detecting problems early, so they can be treated in a timely fashion, is critical if you want to avoid severe, costly complications that could ultimately lead to an amputation.
Sores or wounds that you notice are the highest priority and need immediate treatment, especially if your loved one suffers from diabetes or poor circulation. If wounds get infected they can spread rapidly. Without prompt care, we may be forced to remove part of the foot to halt the spread of dying tissue.
Even minor cuts, blisters, or other skin breakdowns can become wounds, so don’t ignore them. Provide proper first-aid care and check them often. If they aren’t getting better after a couple of days, you need to get help.
You should also keep an eye on how your older relative navigates their environment. If they’re walking with a slow and shuffling gait or lack sturdiness and stability on their feet, you should take them in for a fall risk assessment. About 1 in 3 Americans over 65 will suffer a fall this year, and those tumbles can be quite costly: a broken ankle or hip could put your parent in the hospital for a while, and even when they get out they may not be able to recover previous levels of activity or independence.
It may also be handy to have an occupational therapist or other professional examine your loved one’s living environment to help you identify and eliminate hazards. You may need to remove low-laying obstacles and furniture, move everyday items to keep them in close reach, and install grab bars, non-skid mats, or other tools to provide extra stability.
How to Prepare for a Podiatry Visit
When taking mom or dad to Martin Foot and Ankle for an appointment or checkup, make sure you bring along the following items:
- Insurance or Medicare card
- A list of any medications your loved one is currently taking
- A medical history form (you can print this out here and fill it out in advance with your loved one)
- We welcome the opportunity to speak with both older seniors and their caregivers in detail about all their foot care needs. We want you to leave our office with a clear sense of what the problem is, what we’re doing about it, and what your responsibility will be for ensuring the healing continues at home.
Providing care for an aging parent is a big job, so we make it our mission to provide you with as much help as you need. Schedule a full foot checkup for your loved one at least once per year; please tag along, and feel free to ask us any questions that come up—we’ll answer them as thoroughly as possible.
If you want more information, need to schedule your parent’s yearly exam, or need emergency care for a wound or other foot problem, please call Martin Foot and Ankle today at (717) 757-3537.