Your Podiatrist at
Foot Health and Aging
The health sciences have progressed so rapidly since 1900 that life expectancy of the average American has increased by about 23 years. Older persons have become an increasingly significant proportion of our total population—and their –numbers are growing rapidly. In 1900, for example, there were three million Americans aged 65 or older. In 1996 this figure exceeded 27 million.
If older people are to live useful, satisfying lives, they must be able to move about. Foot ailments make it difficult and often impossible for them to work or to participate in social activities. According to the US National Center for Health Services, one of the leading causes of activity limitation in older people is impairment of the lower extremities. In addition, says the NCHS, one-fourth of all nursing home patients cannot walk at all and another one-sixth can walk only with assistance.
Unfortunately, many older people are unaware of the availability of professional foot care, or simply resign themselves to enduring foot problems which could be treated.
Foot Problems Can Be Prevented
Whether the older person lives at home or elsewhere, preventive foot care can:
♦ Increase comfort
♦ Limit the possibility of additional medical problems
♦ Reduce the chances of hospitalization because of infection
♦ Lessen requirements for other institutional care
Keep them walking
Studies show that care for a bedridden patient costs much more than are for an ambulatory patient. In their private practices and in foot clinics, podiatrists are providing services designed to keep older people on their feet. Podiatrists today serve in hospitals and nursing homes across the country.
Records indicate that amputations and other forms of surgery due to infections of the feet have been significantly reduced in recent years because of early diagnosis and treatment. More improvement in this area can be expected now that podiatrists’ services under Medicare have been expanded.
Mirror of Health
The human foot has been called the mirror of health. Many of the first signs of such systemic conditions as diabetes, arthritis, and circulatory disease appear in the foot. Among these are dry skin, brittle nails, numbness, and discoloration. Always seek professional care when these signs appear.
Foot Health Tips
♦ Walking is the best exercise for your feet.
♦ A shoe with a firm sole and soft upper is best for daily activities.
♦ Socks or stockings should be of the correct size and preferably free of seams.
♦ Do not wear constricting garters or tie your stockings in knots.
♦ Never cut corns and calluses with a razor, pocket knife, or other such instrument.
♦ Bathe your feet daily in lukewarm (not hot) water, using mild soap.
♦ Trim or file your toenails straight across
♦ Inspect your feet every day or have someone do this for you. If you notice any redness, swelling, cracks in the skin, or sores, consult your podiatrist.