The age at which a person is considered "elderly" may vary from culture to culture but it has been accepted (in the US) to be those of age older than 65. October 1 is International Day For Older Persons so I wanted to share some insight about elderly foot care from a podiatrist's perspective.
A large portion of my practice focuses around the elderly and here are some important issues to consider.
1. Gait imbalance - There are many reasons for gait imbalance and some can be easily addressed with orthotics, braces, walking assistance aid (walker, cane). Other times, physical therapy is needed to improve joint mobility and conditioning to prevent falls. Podiatrists can determine whether or not your feet is the cause of your imbalance and make recommendations.
What I would highly recommend for prevention of falls at home (that I learned in my gerontology class from medical school) is GET RID OF LOOSE RUGS around the house and loose cable wiring also. These can lead to tripping and falling, which can have disastrous results in our geriatric population.
2. General foot care - Common problems seen in elderly feet:
- Dry feet that may crack and is too hard for patients to reach to apply lotion
- Painful corns and calluses
- Thick and discolored toenails that are difficult to trim
- Circulation issues including cold feet, pain at rest that feels better when the legs are dangling, or intermittent claudication (pain with walking short distances)
- Osteoarthritis and joint stiffness
- Hammertoes and bunions are progressive deformities that worsen with time and can be very painful
Many of these issues can be treated by a podiatrist with simple procedures performed in the office the same day as your appointment.
3. Undiagnosed depression - Often times, patients seek medical help but they often hide their depression, either from chronic medical conditions or loneliness. Since podiatrists see a lot of elderly patients, we work closely with your primary care doctors to discuss social issues that affect this vulnerable population.
For more information on Geriatric Care, please visit https://geriatricscareonline.org/