Seniors and Their Feet


While proper foot care is important for everybody, senior citizens have a tendency to be more susceptible to certain conditions, and should therefore be well-informed about problems that may arise and what they can do to properly avoid or treat them.

Some of the most common problems seniors experience are foot ulcers, ingrown toenails, fallen arches, and fungal infections.

  • A foot ulcer is an open sore on the foot, which can be the result of decreased sensation in the feet.

  • An ingrown toenail occurs when the nail grows into the side of the toe.

  • Fallen arches are indicated by the instep of the foot collapsing.

  • A fungal infection is a condition that results in deformed and discolored toenails.

In order to avoid these conditions, it is recommended that individuals inspect their feet on a regular basis. If these inspections are carried out routinely, there is a good likelihood problems can be identified before they become severe (or could even be avoided altogether). If any abnormality is discovered, it is important that the individual consult a podiatrist for diagnosis and information on treatment options.

Proper foot hygiene is also important. Making sure that you always have clean, dry socks on can be a major deterrent to many different problems, including bacterial infections, foot odor, and certain types of fungus. Wet feet are a major cause of many of these problems. If your socks get wet, it is important to change them. Walking around in wet socks can lead to various infections, irritate the skin, and can result in a number of various complications. Clean, dry feet are less likely to be affected by fungal and other infections.

As people age, the fat on their feet begins to deteriorate. The protective nature of this fat keeps the feet healthy by providing a barrier between the bones and the ground, as well as providing the skin on the foot with a certain amount of elasticity. This is one factor that causes elderly people to develop some serious foot issues.

Foot moisturizers can be helpful to avoid certain problems. However, water-based moisturizers do not work as well for elderly people as they do for the young. It is more effective to use an emollient instead. An emollient is effective because it binds the water in the foot, keeping it from becoming absorbed too readily. They also have a special property called occlusion, which provides a layer of oil on the skin. This layer prevents the foot from drying out and can be very effective in treating dry skin disorders.

Proper footwear is another way to keep feet healthy. Shoes that fit well and provide proper support help prevent ingrown toenails and fallen arches.

Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or poor blood circulation, increase the risk for foot issues. For individuals with any of these conditions, it is extremely important to conduct regular foot inspections to make sure there are no sores or infections present.

If you can keep the skin on your feet healthy, this will substantially reduce the number of foot problems you will encounter as you age.

Becky Reese