By the time you reach the golden years of life, your feet have served you well! Pay them back by adjusting to their needs as you age.
Don�t expect to have the same sized feet throughout your life. Feet tend to increase in length and width as you age. This is due to the gradual collapsing of your arches through daily wear and tear. You may need to re-measure your feet the next time you go shoe shopping to ensure you are still buying shoes that are the right size. Note: Your two feet won�t necessarily lengthen at the same rate.
You may also notice that the skin on your feet is thinner than it used to be and that the natural fatty cushioning that exists on the ball of your feet and pads of your toes has decreased. This thinner skin means that you are more susceptible to injuries on your feet. Be on the look out for bumps, blisters, scrapes and bruises that could lead to foot ulcers or infections in your feet. This is especially important from senior citizens who have diabetes, or who have reduced circulation in their lower extremities. Poor circulation and neuropathy (damage in your nervous system) may make it difficult for your body to detect and treat infection. Check your feet for minor injuries everyday, or have someone do it for you. This kind of proactive care will go a long way when it comes to preventing foot ulcers, infection and amputation.
Gout is another problem that may affect the feet in old age. It is mainly a concern for men over the age of 50. Gout occurs when uric acid build-ups in the joints. It can cause the joints of the foot (and particularly the big toe) to become red, sore and swollen. For feet that suffer from gout or arthritis, rest and elevate the feet when possible. Anti-inflammatory drugs may also help to reduce pain and swelling.
Other foot problems that affect senior citizens include ingrown toenails (the nails tend to become particularly thick and brittle when we age), bunions (usually aggravated by long histories of wearing ill-fitting shoes), corns and calluses. Invest in athletic or orthopedic shoes that protect your foot from scrapes and bruises. Look for lace-up shoes that enable you to adjust the size of your shoe to accommodate the swelling of your foot. Make sure your shoes don�t pinch or cramp the toes. There is no such thing as a �break-in� period when you buy athletic shoes. If the shoes hurt, then find another pair!
Jane Barron (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance writer based in