Pam Rainey: Feet won’t fail you now

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Kenzie, my 9-year-old granddaughter, went shoe shopping with me a few weeks ago, waiting patiently for me to locate the perfect pair. Some were too short. Others were too tight. There wasn’t a single pair I could find that was just right.

The store had a huge selection of strappy sandals and tall heels. Oh, how I wanted those shoes — but common sense told me they were the recipe for a bad foot day. Other shoes were so comfortable they felt as though I was sliding into butter — but these fell into the category I’d labeled “too mature.”

Although Kenzie was gracious to me that day, she did have her limit. After about an hour in the store, and after hearing various excuses of why I couldn’t purchase this pair or that, with a mixture of exhaustion and compassion she gave me some sound advice.

“Grammy, it doesn’t matter if you buy shoes that look like an old lady’s. If they feel good, just buy them.”

So I did.

If you are like me, when your feet hurt, your whole body hurts. I don’t plan to slow down, and have realized that taking better care of my feet will allow me to have a more active life.

“Years of wear and tear can be hard on our feet,” the National Institute on Aging states in the “Foot Care” section of its website, www.nia.nih.gov. “So can disease, poor circulation, improperly trimmed toenails and wearing shoes that don’t fit. Problems with our feet can be the first signs of more serious medical conditions such as arthritis, diabetes and nerve and circulatory disorders.”

When my sister first developed rheumatoid arthritis, she had no idea why she could not wear shoes with “backs” over her heels.

After resorting to slide-on sandals for a while with no relief, she was appropriately diagnosed by a rheumatologist.

April is Foot Health Awareness Month, and now might be a good time to have your feet measured. You might be surprised by how much your feet can change over time.

“Over time, your feet become wider and longer and the natural padding under your heel and forefoot thins,” an article on SeniorJournal.com states. “Years of use also flatten your arches and stiffen your feet and ankles.”

The website www.icaa.cc/footcare.htm provides reliable information and many useful links. Here are some tips I found helpful in meeting my goals to having healthy feet:

* Inspect your feel regularly and pay attention to changes in color, texture or appearance.

* Maintain proper foot hygiene, including washing and drying between toes.

* Hydrate the skin. Warm weather and open shoes can cause rapid loss of moisture from the skin and may result in cracking or the formation of fissures. It is helpful to replace the moisture content by using lotions or creams on a regular basis.

* Wear shoes that fit. Buy new shoes late in the day when your feet tend to be their largest.

* Don’t ignore foot pain.

* Cut toenails straight across. Never cut into the corners — this could cause an ingrown toenail. (It’s good to see men getting pedicures these days and recognizing the need to take care of their feet.

* Exercise. Walking is a great way to keep weight under control and is excellent for the feet.

* Alternate shoes every day.

* Avoid walking barefoot, to help protect your feet from injury and infection.

* Put sunblock on your feet while wearing sandals to avoid sunburn.

And, finally:

* You are probably the only one who thinks your shoes make you look old. Remember Kenzie’s advice: Go for comfort.

PAM RAINEY is a 40-year Denton resident and a real estate agent who has helped many seniors make decisions about living arrangements. You can reach her with suggestions at RpmRny@cs.com or 940-367-1188.


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