Our feet deserve a little more love. They support us day in and day out, and despite this, are often neglected. The potential plethora of foot problems people develop is no wonder, especially those of us with a few more years under our belts.

Seniors are more susceptible to foot issues for a variety of reasons, including arthritis, diabetes, lack of proper circulation due to limited mobility, toenail issues, bunions, painful structural changes in the feet over time, bone spurs, ill-fitting footwear, and more.

Foot care is especially important in the hot summer months, as wearing sandals or other open-toed shoes can help keep the feet cool. In fact, the hands and feet are the body parts most sensitive to outside temperatures, and therefore responsible for regulating the body’s overall temperature and comfort. So if your feet are cool, then you’re more likely to feel cooled down overall!

That said, not everyone feels comfortable showing off their feet in sandals.

While it’s important to consult your physician before pursuing any kind of health habit or regimen, here are some ideas you may consider for yourself or your senior loved one to get your feet in summer shape:

• Properly fitting footwear — This may seem obvious, but wearing the right shoes is the most important favor you can do for your feet, and in turn, your entire body and its alignment. Since the structure and shape of our feet can change over time and with certain foot conditions, make sure that your own or your elderly loved one’s shoes are still comfortable. This even applies to socks. Make sure the socks aren’t too tight and constricting the feet. Additionally, consider trying out sandals and other types of shoes that are specifically created to properly support the foot.

• Foot filer — Feet can have a tendency to get dry and cracked, especially on the heels. This can be painful, and can even start to bleed. You might consider buying a good foot filer to gently exfoliate the dry skin away.

• Coconut oil After exfoliating the feet, applying coconut oil can help heal and moisturize them. You can find coconut oil at most grocery or drug stores.

• Fuzzy socks — If you rub coconut oil or lotion onto the feet, it can take awhile for it to get absorbed. Certain types of fuzzy socks have skin moisturizing capabilities and can help protect your feet and allow the coconut oil or lotion to settle in. Consider applying your moisturizing product of choice and wearing the fuzzy socks to bed. The feet will start to heal overnight.

• Pedicure (for men or women) — If your podiatrist or primary care doctor says it’s safe, go for a pedicure if you have the means. Many home health care providers are equipped to provide basic pedicures. While pedicures are commonly stereotyped as a more feminine practice, it’s perfectly okay for men to get them, too! Just make sure you address the medical issues and needs of the feet first, though. Pedicures are not medical procedures, but focus on the aesthetics of the feet. You or your senior loved one are much more apt to wear open-toed shoes if you’re not feeling self-conscious about the way your feet look in them.

• Circulation — Due to limited mobility and the process of aging on the body, the blood circulation to the feet can decrease. While good circulation is important all year long and doesn’t apply to summer specifically, it’s helpful to keep this in mind. If possible, stretch regularly, wiggle your toes and ankles around when sitting for prolonged periods of time, try not to cross your legs for too long at a time, and prop your feet up occasionally.

A health care provider examines a patient's feet

Ultimately, make sure to consult with a physician if you or your loved one is concerned about their foot health. Then set your feet free and enjoy the summer!

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