Taking Care of an Ill Loved One

Old Feet, New Problems: 4 Ways Aging Might Change Your Footing

Your feet are two of the most important parts of your body, as they help you maneuver around the world with ease, but as you get older they may start giving you problems. For a number of reasons, your feet need special attention and care -- now, more than ever.

1. Your Feet May Become Flat (Or Flatter) With Age

Especially if you've dealt with fallen arches, or pes planus, your entire life, you will likely notice your feet becoming flatter. While this can cause pain, particularly in the heel, which absorbs more impact without an arch, it shouldn't be too much cause for concern; however, if your flattening feet create challenges for you, talk to a podiatrist. There's no cure for flat feet, but there are solutions, such as special-made shoes, support for the arches, and specific stretches a podiatrist knows all about.

2. The Actual Size Of Your Foot Can Increase To A Higher Size

Because ligaments and tendons loosen with age and gravity is always in play, the actual size of your shoes can increase over time. This shouldn't create too many problems for you, other than having to replace your favorite old pair(s) of shoes and look in a new size section when you shop.

3. You Could Develop Metatarsalgia

Although metatarsalgia can happen at any age, the older you get the more likely you are to develop it. Metatarsalgia is typically an over-use condition and leaves the balls of your feet feeling tender and painful. The nerves in the toes may have become compressed over the years, especially if you tend to wear tight shoes, and this condition isn't likely to go away on its own. Resting the feet in an elevated position, icing them to reduce pain and swelling, and wearing shoes that fit properly are a few of the ways you might find relief, but seeing a podiatrist for a diagnosis and subsequent recommendations is best.

4. Chronic Diseases Alter Feet, Too

Some chronic diseases may impact your feet in a negative way, especially arthritis (of any form). If you have osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, or diabetes, for example, you may feel the effects in your feet and need to show them extra TLC. With approximately 80 percent of older Americans having at least one chronic disease, you definitely want to keep an eye on your feet as part of your medical regimen.

Visit a podiatrist's office, put your feet up, and explain the particular issues you're having. They can analyze the structure of your feet, advise you on surface issues, such as corns, callouses, and toenail trouble, along with making professional recommendations on what type of shoes will work best for you now. If you're experiencing pain, a podiatrist can help with that, too. They also know about ankle and lower-leg problems, whether they're caused by the aging process, the shoes you're wearing, or some other situation like an injury or accident. No matter what the issue, your feet are too important to ignore, especially as you get older.