Foot pain isn’t a normal consequence of growing older, as some may convince themselves to believe. In addition to healthy feet and ankles
contributing to a full and active lifestyle, they can also reduce a senior’s risk for dangerous and deadly falls. Falls have become the leading cause of injury deaths among the over 65 population. Painful foot conditions such as osteoarthritis, corns, bunions, hammertoes, and diabetic complications, can make it difficult for seniors to maintain balance and coordination when walking or standing.
Lower body weakness, gait and balance problems are frequently cited risk factors for falls among seniors. Exercises to enhance lower body strength can reduce this risk. But for seniors with painful foot and ankle conditions, exercise can be difficult. Just one fall can permanently rob a senior of their independence and self-confidence, dramatically reducing their quality of life. Minimising or eliminating foot pain in seniors improves their balance, coordination and stability when walking or standing.
A podiatrist or physiotherapist can recommend simple, effective pain-relief measures such as stretching exercises, or padding for painful corns and hammertoes. But when surgery is the most appropriate treatment for a senior’s painful feet, simple surgical techniques often allow treatment to be performed on an outpatient basis.
The human foot is a relatively complex engine, with its numerous parts designed to work together to support our weight and provide stability. Unfortunately, as we grow older, unhealthy choices, poor shoe selection, and sedentary lifestyle begin to take their toll, which is why we see more and more seniors becoming at risk of falling because of painful feet. Completely fall-proofing seniors may be impossible, but we can try to help most of them minimise the risk.
The Shoes Have It
There are many ways to help prevent falls among seniors. One of the easiest and fastest ways is to buy and wear the correct type of shoes. Moreover, in a recent study among seniors, 28 percent of the respondents claimed that their fall was caused by the shoes they wore.
Among them, sixty percent had sneakers on, but attributed the fall to the shoes being dragged or caught on the floor. The other 40 percent claimed that their shoes did not have enough traction and were simply too slippery. Apart from this, the reality is that wearing the wrong shoes can also contribute to having painful feet.
Shoe Safety Recommendations
To minimise the risk of falling, note the following:
- – Avoid shoes with slippery or worn out soles.
- – Do not wear shoes with plastic or leather soles, especially on wet or slippery surfaces.
- – Athletic shoes with synthetic soles can be slippery on wet or damp surfaces.
- – Stay away from ill-fitting footwear.
- – Never wear shoes with heavy rubber lugs on carpeted surfaces.
- – Be careful when wearing running shoes on carpets, since the rubber tip on the toes can get caught, and cause you to fall.
- – Buy walking shoes with excellent traction and ankle support, but with light soles.
- – Too much cushioning can cause a senior to lose balance or become unstable.
- – Laced shoes, or those with Velcro closures are safer than slip-ons, because they can be adjusted for best fitting.
You can play a role in preventing falls by encouraging the seniors in your life to:
- – Get some exercise – Lack of exercise can lead to weak legs which increases the chances of falling. Exercise programs can increase strength and improve balance.
- – Be mindful of medications – Some medicines or combinations of medicines can have side effects such as dizziness or drowsiness. This can make falling more likely. Having a doctor review all medications can help reduce the chance of risky side effects and drug interactions.
- – Keep their vision sharp – Poor vision can make it harder to get around safely. Seniors should have their eyes checked every year and wear glasses or contact lenses with the right prescription strength to ensure they are seeing clearly.
- – Eliminate hazards at home – About half of all falls happen at home. A home safety check can help identify potential fall hazards that need to be removed or changed, such as tripping hazards, clutter, and poor lighting.
Steps for Home Safety
The following checklist can help seniors reduce their risk of falling at home:
- – Remove things one can trip over (such as papers, books, clothes, and shoes) from stairs and places where you walk.
- – Install handrails and lights on all staircases.
- – Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping.
- – Keep items you use often in cabinets you can reach easily without using a step stool.
- – Put grab bars inside and next to the tub or shower, and next to your toilet.
- – Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
- – Improve the lighting in your home. As you get older, you need brighter lights to see well. Hang lightweight curtains or shades to reduce glare.
- – Wear shoes both inside and outside the house, avoid going barefoot.
All in all, the issue of risk reduction and fixing painful feet can begin with shoe safety and proper selection, to safety tips. The correct footwear and arch supports, help keep you stable while reducing the risk of falling.
Your feet mirror your general health … cherish them!