Foot Problems in the Elderly

Most people that are around senior citizens and the elderly on a regular basis are full of care when they are walking down stairs and uneven ground.  This is because of the prevalence of falls and injuries that occur amongst those in their waning years.  When an elderly person falls, it tends to be a much more serious problem than when a person in their 30’s falls.  Bones are more brittle; ligaments and muscles are less elastic than ever before. If a senior citizen falls because they stumbled, the chances are high that they will break either a hip or an arm.

Many falls in elderly people originate because of one of the common foot problems.  Neuropathy, fractures, falling arches, cartilage deterioration, arthritis, etc. are some common problems with feet.   Some of these issues can be aided with proper shoes or inserts, some with are helped by supplementation to diet, and others might require surgical intervention.  In nearly all cases, however, finding a treatment or intervention will help alleviate pain and may even take it away completely.  It is not necessary to put up with pain daily if you’re able to do something about it.  Quality of life at this stage in life is important and preventing or stopping pain is necessary to improve your quality of life.  Don’t ever put up with pain if there is a way to treat it.

Neuropathy affects many people around the world.  If yours is due to trauma, your doctor will be able to tell you the best ways to treat it.  If it has just started, however, and you’re unsure how to treat the numbness, burning, itching and tingling sensations, investigate whether you have a vitamin B deficiency.  Vitamin B in adequate doses is important for healthy nerve function.  Also, be sure to check in on your consumption of alcohol, as over-indulgence in this area can cause symptoms of neuropathy, as well.

Fractures can become more common as we age, and since our feet must bear the burden of our body’s weight while our bones are losing some of their density, fractures occur.  Acute pain generally accompanies fractures, but it may not be unbearable pain.  I’ve known some older people who have fractured bones, and while it hurts terribly, they are usually reluctant to go to the doctor unless it has continued for a long period of time.  With fractured bones, though, waiting can be the worst thing to do.  If a fracture heals improperly, the uneven ends can develop bone spurs, which will give intermittent pain and discomfort for the rest of your life.  If you suspect a bone fracture, get it taken care of right away.

Falling arches affect many people of all ages.  Talk to your doctor if you think they may be a problem for you.  If you try to live without inserts or another kind of intervention, you may be living in pain that is completely unnecessary, but which is also completely preventable.

Deteriorating cartilage is common in ankles, knees, & hips, especially if you had a full-time job on your feet for most of your life.  There are injections that can help ease the pain of this, as well as supplements that the doctor may suggest.  There is also surgery, if it is bad enough.  Recovery time might cramp your style for a while, but the freedom of movement after you’ve recovered is worth it!  While you wait for surgery, be sure to try inserts and good shoes with ample support to see if the extras will alleviate a bit of the sharp pain that you’ve been experiencing.

Finally, arthritis affects most of the aging population in one way or another, even if it is not rheumatoid arthritis.  It is normally caused by inflammation, so research different foods that might be causing inflammation in your body.  Eliminating these could greatly reduce the arthritic pain that you suffer.  Taking supplements like capsicum can also aid against pain.

Whatever you feel your issues are, please seek help for them.  Foot/leg pain are not just a normal part of the aging process.  They are probably pointing to a deeper problem & that problem may be able to be solved.  Freedom of movement, freedom from pain, and better quality of life may be available to you if you’re willing to put in the “foot work” to seek out a solution!

Massage & the Elderly

As we age, all of us begin to awaken with new little aches & pains that we hadn't noticed before.  Perhaps we slept wrong or moved wrong or didn't move enough during the night & now we're paying for it.  We've all experienced joint discomfort at some point or another.  But imagine that as your every day reality.  If you or someone you love has this kind of pain on a regular basis, it can be very discouraging.  Chronic pain & discomfort can lead to depression because a person feel as though they'll never get better.  Oftentimes join & muscle problems can affect the nerves surrounding the tissue & they can also end up with sharper, stabbing pains, or tingling and numbness.  Any of these issues can be cause to seek out help from a massage therapist.

Massage can benefit seniors & the elderly in several ways. Increasing blood flow to different areas of the body is perhaps the single greatest benefit.  Poor circulation often precedes many problems in the elderly.  If there is poor circulation, it is difficult to utilize those areas of the body.  It is also difficult to maintain proper body temperature without good circulation.
Finding a really reputable massage therapist in your area may be a difficult task.  The best thing to do is to ask around for recommendations.  You will learn quickly that the person with the best website or the largest ad in the phone book is not necessarily the best person to meet your needs.  Advertising and massage therapy take entirely different skill sets, so do not be swayed by their marketing.  In these cases it is imperative that you find someone who has been to them & has a good report.  If you find recommendations for several therapists, narrow your search to those who have worked successfully with the aging population.  You could even begin calling, at that point, to ask more direct questions of the therapists themselves.

Another benefit is the full relaxation of the muscles that are being worked on.  If the muscles are too tight, injuries can be more common.  Relieving that muscle tension can be a key in helping the joints to be more mobile & the muscles to have full range of motion. Be sure that the therapist you're working on is aware of how to work on muscles covered by aging skin.  Aging skin is much more prone to tearing, so a very gentle approach will be needed.  It takes an expert to be able to effectively massage the muscles in an elderly patient while maintaining the integrity of the skin.

Physical human contact can be a mood booster for the elderly, as well.  Studies are available that show the importance of human contact to each of us.  In elderly patients, this can be even more important because, often, their human contact becomes less over time.  If the person is able to have a great massage & a great conversation at the same time, it can do much for them physically & emotionally.  Relieving stress & anxiety  in the process of the massage is such a huge benefit, that many people sign up for weekly massages, opting for this instead of anti-anxiety drugs.

If the elderly person you're helping is recovering from surgery or chemotherapy, massage has been shown to help with these situations, as well.  Post-op massage is much more targeted to the areas affected by the surgery, but by increasing blood flow, can bring faster healing to the areas that are in need.  Massage during the chemo process can help to relieve the nausea associated with the chemotherapy drugs.  If the person you care about does have special circumstances like this, be sure to let the therapist know your concerns and ask any questions you might have.

Massage has a number of benefits for all people.  Sometimes they get overlooked as our loved ones age because our society tends to be more medically minded.  If some of the ailments that they suffer with can be alleviated through massage, however, think of how much better that will be for them physically, emotionally and financially!

 

The Importance of Posture to the Elderly

The aging body is an amazing thing.  How life can take us from such a small creature to our prime & then through the process of growing old is remarkable indeed.  As we age, however, we discover that there are some things that we were never forced to think about before that have suddenly become important.  Posture is one of those things.  Our bodies are created in a very aligned way.  Life, circumstance and gravity seem to grow heavier over time and pull us further forward & down.  This can wreak havoc, not only on our muscular and skeletal systems, but also on our internal organs.  There is some natural stooping that will occur as we age, but we've all noticed that some people age much more quickly and are drawn downward and forward to a much greater degree than their counterparts of relatively the same age.  But, what is natural and what is not?

Calcium.  It is natural for your body to lose bone density as a person ages due to a lesser production of calcium.  Osteoporosis is common in post menopausal women and in men that are over 65.  This lack results in bones that are less dense & a bit of shrinking in the overall height of a person.  While this is natural, extreme stooping is not & should be addressed sooner, rather than later, by a physician.

Weight.  Aging can often come with an addition of weight which can pull at the skeletal structure bring it downward & forward.  Keeping this in check will have many health benefits, one of them being that your posture will be better.

Muscle.  Muscle strength is naturally lost as we age, but we mustn't give up and give in when it comes to our muscle mass.  Yes, some may be lost naturally, but why lose more by inactivity?

Joints.  Anyone experiencing arthritis knows how rigid and achy joints can cause one to draw inward instead of stretching outward.  Finding relief from this pain can do much to improve the posture.

Keep in mind that posture does not stand alone in your overall health.  If you slump forward, your internal organs are compromised in their functions as well.  It is difficult to draw full, deep breaths into your lungs which will ward off pneumonia.  Other organs, like the bladder, are weakened because of increased weight atop them that was never meant to be there.  It is not necessary that these things become issues, however.  Here are a few brief suggestions for you to improve your posture and attain a healthier life.

  1. It seems simple enough, but practicing being mindful of your posture is truly a difficult undertaking. Being sure to sit erect, stand, & walk without slouching can take a great deal of strength of will AND body!  Keeping your spine straight & your shoulders back and down is an excellent start on the pathway to good posture.
  2. Supplementing your healthy diet with calcium & vitamin D can improve your bone density & affect your posture positively. The vitamin D will also improve your mood!
  3. Building up your muscle mass & strength with do great things for your posture.  It will also give you the needed strength to make progress in your attentiveness to posture.
  4. Pain relief. Be sure to seek help in this area, especially if you have arthritis or another debilitating pain.  Our body draws in to protect itself from pain, & it is nearly impossible to combat this with attentiveness alone, as the drawing in can also be happening during sleep.  You should try to remain as pain free as possible. Do not think that “soldiering on” will make it easier in the long run.

A few such interventions as these listed should bring about great change & health for you as you age!  Enjoy your old age, & your years of wisdom while feeling great!

Arthritis

 Many people struggle against the old enemy that accompanies aging...arthritis.  Pain, stiffness & swelling in the joints may not seem serious, but when you've started to experience it on a regular basis, it becomes clear why we should do all we can to treat this problem to regain mobility & lack of pain.

If you've never experienced arthritis, but suspect that you may be developing it, you should keep an eye on it.  If you have pain or swelling in your joints for two or more weeks, head to a doctor for a diagnosis. Arthritis is defines as a “painful inflammation and swelling of the joints”.  Because your pain could also be due to an injury of a joint, it's important to have it diagnosed properly & seek the best treatment.  If it is due to injury, treatment may include surgery, while treatment for arthritis will most likely be less invasive.  There are several things that the doctors might recommend:

Medications.  There are a variety of medications & creams that your doctor might recommend to combat arthritis.  Some of these options might be over-the-counter, while others might be prescription.  Some people just try different over-the-counter remedies, but you'll have the advantage of knowing which ones are a waste of money if you speak with your doctor.

Heat & Cold.  Speaking with your doctor can also help you to narrow down the correct times & methods to apply heat & cold packs to arthritic joints for the best relief.

Exercise.  It may seem counter-intuitive to exercise the joints that are causing you such pain, but it does help.  The key is to know the correct exercises that will help instead of causing further harm to your joints.  Look into exercises that are approved by a physical therapist to find some relief in this manner.

Diet & Supplements.  Because this is a problem in your body caused by inflammation, find a diet that wars against inflammation in the joints.  Make sure it's high in fruits & vegetables, and low in trans-fats, & you should be on the right track!  Also consider looking into supplements that can help fight inflammation.  Turmeric is one such spice to consider using if you are not allergic.

Surgery.  If your arthritis is bad enough, your doctor may advise surgery to take care of the problem.  This can be a huge relief for those whose arthritis is advanced enough, but if you feel that you could benefit from some of the other areas listed, discuss those options first until you are convinced that this course may be necessary. 

Arthritis may be a common accompaniment to aging, but it doesn't need to be debilitating for everyone, nor a source of constant pain.  Make it your goal to do all that you can to lessen the pain instead of just living with it.  Your body & your mind will thank you!

 

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