We are usually quite aware of changes in our faces as we age since we peer at them in the mirror every day. With feet, we may not notice such changes as quickly because we cover them up in socks and shoes all the time – and often we won’t notice until an actual problem develops.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say.
Age-Related Changes to Feet
Your feet are going to grow as you get older. Mostly, they’ll spread and widen. Growth by itself won’t be a problem as long as you don’t live in denial about this when it happens.
To be prepared, get your feet measured, length and width, before you buy shoes online. Measure them at the end of the day when feet are largest. Measure both feet because chances are good that one foot is a little bigger than the other and you should buy shoes the size of the larger foot.
Other normal age-related changes may raise the risk of problems. Examples:
- You start losing the fatty pads on the bottoms of the feet, which reduces natural cushioning.
- Skin becomes thinner and less elastic, leaving you more prone to injury and infection.
- Circulation becomes less efficient so your feet swell more often and dryness may become an issue.
- Nails become thicker and more brittle – even if there’s no fungal infection – which makes toenail trimming more difficult and perhaps less safe.
Certain surgeries, such as knee surgeries, become more likely. If you have such a surgery you may experience swelling and dryness of the affected leg and foot even after you have regained full function.
Dealing with Changes
You can sum up what it takes to care successfully for the aging foot in two words: preparation and adaptation.
Preparation means watching for changes. If you’ve taken your feet for granted in the past, stepping up your game when it comes to routine care and maintenance. It also involves a commitment to making an appointment with your doctor if you suddenly experience foot pain, changes in color or signs of possible infection (redness, hot spots, swellings and/or fever).
Adaptation involves dealing with the aging foot you’ve been given in a consistent way. This might include:
Taking your socks off at every doctor’s appointment for evaluation of the health of your feet.
Counteracting the tendency of your feet to swell by using graduated compression hosiery, or by making a new rule for yourself to find ways to put your feet up whenever you sit down.
- Finding new ways to comfort your feet, such as cushioned insoles or a better moisturizer.
- Wear supportive shoes with ample cushioning.
- Shop for your feet by ailment to find healthful and pain-relieving products made for people with arthritis, diabetes and other medical conditions.
National Institutes of Health: Facts about Peripheral Arterial Disease (P.A.D.)