Sam Bauman: Feet come first when avoiding senior falls



I failed to discuss in earlier columns how feet play an important role in avoiding senior falls. But obviously feet are important — they play a large role in keeping us upright. Here are some particulars:

The foot is an anatomical structure found in most vertebrates. As defined by OMICS International: It’s the terminal portion of a limb which bears weight and allows locomotion. In many animals with feet, the foot is a separate organ at the terminal part of the leg made up of one or more segments or bones, generally including claws or nails.

The human foot is a strong and complex mechanical structure containing 26 bones, 33 joints (20 of which are actively articulated), and more than a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments. To read more visit:

The joints of the foot are the ankle and subtalar joint and the interphalangeal articulations of the foot.

That’s the basics. All too often we don’t pay attention to our feet until they hurt. The journal Gerontology found one in five seniors had foot pain regularly. It’s one of the most common complaints of aging.

Some of the most common complaints of feet among the aging include:

Skin and nail problems include corns and calluses (hard thick patches of skin) caused by rubbing are common factors for foot pain among seniors, according to a 2016 study. Next could be nail conditions such as ingrown toenail or fungal infections. Counter measures include wearing footwear that doesn’t pinch or rub. It’s wise not to go without socks. If one develops corns or callus, doctors can remove the extra layer of skin.

To avoid fungus, always wear footwear in public places such as locker rooms. If you notice thickening or discoloration, a podiatrist can report if it’s fungus and can prescribe medication. Cutting toenail straight across and filing at the sides to avoid jagged edges helps prevent ingrown toenails, says Jane Anderson, DPM, of North Carolina. This is often difficult for the average person, so the help of a podiatrist may be needed.

In seniors, bone deformation such as bunions, when the big toe joint becomes misaligned, and hammer toes, when one of the smaller toes gets bent in the middle, often causing pain. This may happen when footwear puts pressure on toes, particularly when shoes with narrow front or a high heel. Toe arthritis can also bring foot pain. To prevent such problems, choose shoes with a round, deep toe box and a stiff sole to reduce pain by keeping foot joints from having to bend as much.

About a third of those with diabetes have foot numbness and tingling. With numbness, foot wounds can escape notice and worsen. Tingling may be a signal of something wrong elsewhere. If one has diabetes, it’s smart to check daily for cuts or bruises. If one doesn’t suffer from diabetes, a doctor can see what other cause could be involved.

If feet are bothering you, see your primary health provider who can refer you to a specialist such as a podiatrist who can prescribe orthotics, treat ingrown toenails, offer diabetic foot care and surgical procedures such as removal of bunions and hammertoe repair.

Psychiatrists work with physical therapists using non-surgical methods to treat pain. Orthopedic surgeons treat pain problems such as clubfoot tendon pain or fracture. Proper fit and type of shoe for any condition is best managed by buying footwear at specialized stores, not department stores.

Obviously, feet are important in avoiding senior falls. Best to make sure there are no traps such as loose rugs or unmarked height changes at home.

History in magazines

Recently stumbled across a tote bag of old magazines in a closet, and it was a real look back at, among other things, the history of the oversized LIFE magazine. Best of the stack was the 50th anniversary issue of LIFE, a thick collection of many photos over 50 years. Almost every photo was a moment of time frozen in color or black and white.

There also was a curio Echo, a small sized ring-bound of 45 rpm records of such as Nichols and May, Fred Astaire, James Thurber, Larry Adler, Gypsy Rose Lee. Gone but live on 45s.

There was a 50-cent copy of Vixen “for men who enjoy their mates with claws and paws.” This was before Hugh Hefner made nudes common. No nudes.

Then there was a magazine dear to my childhood heart, Liberty, “The Nostalgia Magazine,” of summer 1971. I remember I sold prescriptions to my Ohio neighbors for $1 a year (and I got a quarter). This copy featured cover blurbs such as “My Sex Life” by Mahatma Gandhi, “My New Year’s Resolutions” by Shirley Temple, and added attractions stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Benchley, Mae West, H.L. Mencken, Benny Goodman, Benito Mussolini, Theodore Dreiser and W.C. Fields. With arms out “Uncle Sam” on the cover.

Quite a collection of daffy and deft history. Some amateur historian could make a museum exhibit with these magazines. Not a Playboy among them.

Sam Bauman writes about senior affairs, among other things, for the Nevada Appeal.


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