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As our feet grow older they naturally develop more problems, but painful and uncomfortable feet are not a natural part of growing old or something you need to put up with.
Looking after your feet
It's never too late to start caring for your feet:
- do wash them every day in warm, soapy water but don't soak them. Rinse well and dry thoroughly, especially between the toes.
- Do rub in a moisturiser if your skin is dry. If it is too moist, dab it with some surgical spirit on cotton wool.
- Do inspect your feet every day (or ask a friend to do this for you). Look for any signs of redness, swelling, cracks in the skin, or sores are. This is particularly important if you have diabetes. If any appear, consult a State Registered Chiropodist straight away.
- Don't cut corns or hard skin yourself. Let the chiropodist do it for you, and don't apply 'over the counter' remedies, unless they have been recommended by your chiropodist or pharmacist, as they may do more harm than good.
- Don't wear tight socks, stockings or tights as these can affect your circulation.
- Do visit a State Registered Chiropodist for regular checkups.
Keeping toenails cut and under control will help keep you mobile but for many elderly people cutting toenails can be a problem perhaps because of poor eyesight or trouble bending down.
You could ask a friend to cut your toenails for you, but it is advisable to consult a state registered chiropodist, who will be able to cut even heavily overgrown toenails painlessly and keep them under control for you.
Try to keep your feet as warm as possible, but don't cook them in front of the fire. Exercise is the best way, so move around as much as you can. Warm stockings or socks can help but avoid anything too tight which can restrict your circulation or cramp your toes.
Wearing fleece lined boots or shoes or even an extra pair of socks will also keep you warm but do make sure your shoes aren't tight as a result. Bed socks are a good idea.
The older you get, the more you need a shoe which holds your foot firmly in place and gives adequate support. Beware of sloppy old favourites which, although comfortable, may have worn soles and heels making you unstable when you walk. Have them repaired or throw them out.
Look for shoes with uppers made of soft leather or a stretchy man-made fabric which is also breathable. Avoid plastic 'easy clean' uppers which don't allow the foot to breathe and won't stretch to accommodate your own foot shape. Many shoes have underfoot cushioning or shock absorbing soles and these will give you extra comfort when walking.
When you buy shoes do make certain that you can put them on and take them off easily. Check that the heel is held firmly in place - you'll find that a lace up or Velcro fastening shoe will give more support and comfort than a slip-on.
Don't squeeze your feet into inappropriate footwear. Buy shoes that are wide and roomy enough for you - the particularly if you will be wearing them everyday. If you suffer with swollen feet it's a good idea to put your shoes on as soon as you wake up, before your feet have had the chance to swell. This way the shoe will seem to fit better, and your foot is less likely to slip up and down at the heel.
if you are concerned about your feet, or have any foot problems, consult your local state registered chiropodist. Your chiropodist will also be able to make appliances to add to your comfort, such as soft insoles that will fit easily into your shoes, and protectors for painful and deformed toes or bunions.
State Registered Chiropodists can treat many foot problems - even those that you think are beyond treating. They are there to improve the comfort and health of your feet and so to make walking easier.