Foot Self-Care for Older Adults


January 20, 2023


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Foot Self-Care for Older Adults

Foot self-care is an important aspect of general health, especially for older adults.

Foot problems, especially pain, can have a detrimental effect on quality of life. Many people are not aware of the importance of foot self-care or see it as an important aspect of general health. Without care, minor foot problems can easily become major problems that require podiatric care. Unfortunately, older people experience a considerable number of foot problems, with one in three older adults having at least one foot problem and with women being more likely to suffer. 

Aging affects foot health and is associated with changes in foot characteristics. However, aging is not the only cause of poor foot health, foot pain, and the loss of foot-related functional ability. Long-term diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis can also affect foot health.

Older adults use a variety of methods to care for their feet. However, several factors, including physical difficulties, inadequate knowledge, and poor perceived importance of foot self-care can hinder their ability to do so. Older people need advice, education, and support to maintain their foot health. 

Strategies to promote foot self-care: 

  • Regularly wash and throughly dry feet.
  • Regularly trim toe nails.
  • Regularly moisturize feet (and legs) to keep the skin elastic and discourage skin deformities such as corns and calluses.
    • This practice is especially important in the dryer winter months.
  • Occasionally soak then exfoliate dry skin to prevent excess callus build up.
    • NOTE: some callus is good and helps protect feet. Talk to a medical professional if you have questions about this. 
  • Wear hosiery or socks to increase shock absorbency.
  • Wear properly fitting shoes that provide balance and security when walking.
  • Do foot exercises to promote balance, foot strength, and ankle flexibility.
  • Massage the feet to promote circulation.
  • Get regular checkups by your primary care physician. Or a podiatrist/specialist if recommended by the doctor.

Source: National Library of Medicine Challenges of foot self-care in older people: a qualitative focus-group study

We hope this information is helpful to you in the important work you do as a family caregiver.
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