Caring For Feet As You Get Older: 5 Ways To Keep Them Healthy And Functional

Most people don't give too much thought to their feet, unless something goes wrong with them. As you age, though, the attention you pay to your feet acts as a preventative mechanism against many potentially painful predicaments.

1. Stop Thinking Of Pedicures As A Luxury

Especially as you get older or if you have a compromised immune system, allowing toenails to grow, unimpeded, can lead to fungal infection. Beyond the unsightly appearance of toes in this condition, you risk greater complications, such as toenail deformation and the infection traveling elsewhere in your body. Pedicures will keep your toenails trim and clean, greatly reducing your chances of developing fungal infections and eliminating the toe-pinching discomfort that comes with unruly nail growth.

If you opt to do the pedicures yourself, soak your feet first, to allow for softening of the nails. If you notice abnormal thickening of the nails or any anomalous skin growths, such as corns and callouses, you might want to schedule an appointment with your local podiatrist.

2. Try Foot Exercises For Strength And Improved Circulation

Poor circulation often afflicts the older population and this can be particularly hard on the feet. This might be why your toes feel cold, numb or tingle sometimes. Stretching is a good way to keep the blood flowing, possibly off-setting circulatory complications. Nikola Tesla, famed American inventor and scientist, actually exercised his toes nightly, believing it improved brain function. While it remains to be seen if you could increase your IQ or sharpen your memory with toe-exercises, they'll certainly be good for your circulation.

3. Maintain A Healthy Weight

You have many reasons to manage your weight, including foot health. Extra weight on feet adds stress to bones and tendons and that can lead to chronic pain or even different diseases. Unfortunately, losing weight increases in difficulty as you age, but don't let that discourage you; if you work hard at it, monitoring caloric intake and adding moderate exercise to your daily schedule, you should see a difference on the scale.

4. Switch To More Sensible Shoes

One of the worst things people do to their feet at any age is wear shoes that may be nice to look at, but restrict blood flow, force the toes into pointy-tip heels or otherwise harm the components of the feet and toes. If your feet are aching often, prone to fungus and growths or just not holding you up as well as they use to, consider switching to more practical attire. Invest in a pair of custom-fit or orthopedic shoes and you should notice a big improvement, fairly quickly.

5. See A Podiatrist Before Small Issues Become Major Issues

If you're the type of person to tolerate the common aches and pains of aging as an inevitable part of the process, you may be doing yourself a disservice. It's very important that you have issues checked out, even the small ones, so that they don't become more serious and feet are no exception. Talk to a podiatrist about what is "normal" and what you should actively treat. They'll help you differentiate between those little things you really have to just put up with and those you can effectively remedy.

You have enough to concern yourself with as time catches up with your body. Neglecting the feet that support you could be like having the rug pulled from under you, quite literally.