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Caring For Your Feet Can Prevent Falls

Our feet play an important role in keeping us healthy by helping to maintain our independence, mobility and keeping us physically active. In our youth, we often take things for granted but as we age simple things like cutting our toenails become more challenging. It is no longer as easy to reach our feet and poor vision as well as changes to the structure of our feet, make foot care more difficult. Chronic conditions such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, kidney disease, high blood pressure, being overweight, peripheral vascular disease (poor circulation) and peripheral neuropathy (loss of sensation), put us at risk of developing foot problems.

Follow these 5 Steps to Prevent Foot Problems:

Step 1: Care for your Feet

Keep your feet clean by washing them daily and drying them well, particularly between the toes.

Prevent dry and cracked skin by applying moisturiser to your feet

Cut and file your toenails when required, cutting straight across the top, following the natural contours of the nail, and filing away sharp edges. If you are unable to cut your toenails safely, we recommend you discuss this with your podiatrist.

Step 2: Check your Feet Daily

Thoroughly check your feet daily for anything unusual or that is different from the previous day. This includes looking at the top of the feet, between the toes and the heels. You may need a mirror to inspect the bottom of your feet. If you notice any ulcers, unusual swelling, redness, or ingrown toenails, you need to see your GP urgently.

Avoid using corn plasters, corn planers and foot files as they can damage the skin and allow infection in.

Step 3: Protect your Feet

Shoes are our first line defense against foot injuries as they protect our feet. Wearing well fitted, supportive, rubber soled shoes can prevent you from slipping or tripping. Have your feet professionally measured to help choose shoes that fit properly (most good shoe shops provide this service). As we age the shape of our feet change, our arches drop, making our feet longer and wider, so our shoe size may change. Foot deformities such as bunions or hammer toes may require different shoes to accommodate these changes. New shoes should feel comfortable straight away and you shouldn’t have to “walk them in” first.

Stay on Your Feet® have a Shoe Safety Checklist to help you select appropriate shoes:  www.stayonyourfeet.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/SOYF-Shoe-Safety-Checklist-A4-v3-HIGHRES.pdf

Wear socks in cold weather, rather than using a hot water bottle or warming your feet near the heater, to prevent burns.

Step 4: Avoid smoking

Smoking reduces the blood flow to our feet. This can result in poor wound healing and loss of sensation in our feet, as the nerves in our feet don’t get sufficient blood supply.

Step 5: See a Podiatrist

If you have any concerns about your feet or are unable to care for your feet, you should speak to your GP about a referral to a podiatrist. If you have diabetes, it is recommended you have a podiatrist check your feet at least once a year, more often if there are any concerns.

When we have injured our feet or develop a problem with our feet, we are at higher risk of having a fall. Painful feet lead to a change in how we walk, and this can affect our balance. If you have numbness of your feet from cancer treatments or have diabetes you are at a higher risk of having a fall as you are unable to feel changes to the surfaces you walk on, and climbing stairs is more challenging.

Diabetes WA offers a suite of free self-management programs under the NDSS for people living with diabetes, including FootSMART and online webinars.

Diabetes WA also has a Helpline staffed by credentialed diabetes educators who will answer any questions you have with regards to diabetes foot care.

For more information, to register to attend a program or speak to a diabetes educator, please visit the Diabetes WA website or call 1300 001 880.

 

Stay On Your Feet® is provided by Injury Matters and funded by the Western Australian Department of Health.

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Government of Western Australia Department of Health Injury Matters
Injury Matters acknowledge the Whadjuk Noongar people as the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work, and recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continuing connection to land, waters and community across Western Australia.