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As we get older, our mobility diminishes due to numerous factors. Some of the first visible signs of aging may be changes to posture and gait, as well as fatigue and general weakness doing everyday tasks. People may notice an impact on mobility when engaging in activities such as walking. Aging affects muscle mass and strength, bone density, and can make joints stiffer and less flexible due to reduction of cartilage thickness1 (Nestle Health Science).

Why Senior Mobility Matters

Immobility is one of the most common age-related disabilities. In a report based on 2008-2012 U.S. Census results, it was determined that 2 out of 3 Americans age 65 and older struggle with walking and/or climbing.  With the inability to walk, climb, or move at all comes several serious issues including:

  • Depression
  • Isolation
  • Fall-related injuries
  • Inability to reach phone or door to seek help or assistance

The monetary cost of an immobile loved one can mount quickly. Medical devices like powered scooters and lifts, assisted living care, security monitoring, transportation, and medical bills from injuries related to falls can put additional strain on both the elderly individual and their family. That’s why it’s best to address mobility issues as early as possible.  What starts as “a little trouble getting up” quickly becomes a bigger issue requiring special equipment to aid movement including:

  • Walking Cane
  • Walker
  • Wheelchair
  • Scooter / Powered Wheelchair

Always Wear Proper Foot Gear

Foot health is vitally important to mobility and independence as we age, and wearing the right orthotics can help us stay more active and self-reliant.  Wearing appropriate footwear can help improve balance, especially in older people who may struggle with mobility and balance issues.  This is a 24 hour / 7 day rule, whether out running errands or at home cooking dinner.  The right footwear can support and strengthen your foot and arch, in turn enhancing overall balance and mobility. 

When selecting a shoe to improve balance, always press on both sides of the heel area to ensure the heel is stiff and won't collapse.  Also, bend the shoe to check for toe flexibility. The shoe shouldn't bend too much in the toe box area, but it shouldn't be too stiff and inflexible either.  Finally, try the twist test to ensure it doesn’t twist in the middle.

Natural aging and health changes can cause foot size to change, so it’s important to have your feet professionally measured every time you purchase shoes. Measure both feet—late in the day—and shop for the larger foot.  Another good tip is to bring the type of socks you plan to wear and walk around with them in the shoes before purchasing.

Shoes should feel comfortable and supportive right away.  If they don't, breaking them in won't improve things. Often shoes can be complimented with the used of orthotic inserts to provide additional support and mobility to the foot, as well as additional comfort the shoe may lack. Common indications that foot orthotics are necessary for balance include: muscle weakness, fallen arches, ataxia, gait abnormality, joint instability, difficulty walking, peripheral neuropathy, limb pain, arthropathy and hemiplegia. Using a good supportive orthotic insert for these conditions will contribute to helping reduce the risk of falls and aid in the mobility of Seniors (Podiatry Today).

Additional Ways to Improve Mobility in the Elderly

Now that you’re aware of the seriousness of mobility and how orthotics can help address those issues, noted are a few more ways to stave off immobility.

  1. Exercise & Stay Active: The best defense is a good offense; this applies to many things in life, including enhanced mobility. The more stationary your life becomes, the harder it will be to remain mobile.
  • Using the stairs regularly
  • Parking further away from your destination for a quick walk
  • Walking to nearby shops or neighbor’s homes instead of driving
  • Only utilizing a medical transport device (i.e. scooter, wheelchair) at the direction of a doctor or physical therapist
  1. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Mobility depends on having strong legs. Certain conditions like obesity can weaken your legs to the point of immobility. That’s why maintaining a healthy weight is essential for continued mobility during elderly years. 
  1. Stretch Regularly: People of all ages should stretch regularly for better bodily function, decreased pain, increased blood flow, and enhanced mobility. If you’re looking at the easiest way to improve mobility in elderly, stretching is it.

Now is the time to make sure that enhancing your mobility is facilitated with proper arch support, and you can do that for your feet with SelectFlex Arch Control Insoles. This allows for optimal support, MOBILITY and comfort with every step that you take. Along with good routine foot care, you can significantly reduce your risk of serious slips, trips and falls. Take control of your Foot care today! Find out more about this special Arch-Control Insole.

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Experts in arch support provide a comprehensive guide on some of the feet ailments that people may suffer from, how to avoid and treatment methods such as usage of shoe inserts.

Six Strange Things Your Feet Undergo as You Get Older
They carried you around since the first day you started walking to this morning's run or walk. Reasonably enough, the whole body has changed over that time, so it's no wonder that our feet also go through some changes, including Flat Feet or Fallen Arches as you get older. Here is an easy test from Prevention to lookout for the arch type you might have.

Below are six standard foot ailments that often show up with age and how to alleviate their effects.

  1. Arthritis Appears
    Your feet have over 30 joints, all of which may degenerate with time. Arthritis usually affects the metatarsal joints on top of your feet or your big toe (Verywellhealth.com). In addition to pain, you may feel stiffness during morning hours, which improves when you get moving and gets worse at night.

    Exercises to raise a range of motion, lose weight, and shoe inserts when you are heavy can be of great help. Moreover, knee and hip arthritis exhibit trickle-down effects, changing the alignment in ways that may cause pain outside or on the inside of your feet. If at any instance, your joints hurt, visit your doctor - treating knee and hip arthritis with medication or exercise often relieves the burden on your feet, too.
  2. The Circulation Slows Down
    Vein disease, diabetes, and other conditions that become more common due to aging can slow blood circulation in your feet. This causes a wound from a new-shoe blister or stepping on a sharp object to heal more slowly. Join this with nerve impairment (which often comes with similar health conditions), and you may not even realize a worsening infection, causing an ulcer that won't recover.

    In case you have any of these conditions, see a podiatrist with your health team. Regularly inspect your feet for scratches and cuts and seek treatment immediately. You may consider fitting a floor mirror in the bathroom for more comfortable viewing.
  3. Ligaments Grow
    On the other hand, ligaments which are connective tissues, can stretch over time, causing your arch to hurt and flatten your foot (Britannica). What is more, the sensors that usually alert the brain that the ligaments are getting overloaded (think of them as joints' backup sensors) begin to hit the fritz. This puts you off balance and makes you susceptible to a recurring series of ankle sprains.

A healthy foot will have an arch to give it strength and stability. You lose that stability in your feet when you lose the arch support. That is why it is crucial to use orthotic devices, not only for pain relief but also for prevention.  Numerous studies show that wearing quality orthotic shoe inserts help enhance activation of the foot muscles, especially during exercise.  Putting on a Customizable Arch Support while exercising or playing sports can help you stay stable.  Ankle-strengthening exercises such as toe raises and ankle circles may also enhance stability.

  1. Tightening of Tendons
    Not that nimble in yoga class currently? One reason could be that the water levels in your tendons decrease with age, causing, among other things, the stiffening of the cords in the ankles. Not only can this upset the downward dog, but it also puts you at higher risk for fractures and tears.

    Remaining active helps to counteract the effects. This may only take 10 minutes every day. If you have ever experienced Achilles tendon damage in the past, support exercises like raising the calves can prevent relapse. You can as well try this exercise to loosen tight ankles.
  2. Fat Disappears
    Mother Nature offers people built-in insoles: elastin and collagen cushions, filled with fatty tissue, on our feet' bottoms (Healthfully.com). However, in a cruel turn of the spread in middle age, collagen production declines with age, making these fat pads thinner.

    Lacking this cushioning, you might start the morning feeling fine, but if you're in a lot of foot pain at the end of the day it may be because you are walking on bones, potentially causing Plantar Fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a layer of fibrous cartilage that runs from the back of the foot to the metatarsal bones in the front. It is responsible for stabilization and keeping the foot from twisting beyond its limits. It is also what gives you that "spring" in your step.

The first line of defense against Plantar Fasciitis pain is rest and ice. You could also try a nylon brace that fits around the foot to help support it. But these are just temporary solutions.  A more long-term solution is to wear proper fitting shoes and employ the use of quality shoe inserts. Stabilizing the foot is vital to preventing foot pain, and orthotic devices will help achieve that.

A study conducted by Dr. Rebecca Lewis and colleagues found that shoe inserts were effective when treating PF. In her conclusion, she writes:

"Used alone or in addition to conventional therapy (NSAIDs, stretching, lifestyle modification), orthotics are effective and well tolerated by patients for short-term pain relief and improved function. Prefabricated orthotics are less costly and provide similar relief to more expensive custom [devices]."

  1. Drying Out of the Skin
    In addition to cushioning the bottoms of your foot, collagen also drops your skin. A falling supply will cause your tootsies to dry out and be prone to cracking and drying out.

    Fight back by ensuring you stay hydrated, and get into the habit of utilizing a moisturizer and do this twice every day. Most people do not realize the significance of regularity; they do not understand why dry skin does not improve when they smear skin cream daily.

Discussed above are ailments that elderly people may get and how to treat and avoid them.  If you are suffering from any of these conditions, please contact us to get adjustable-arch orthotic insoles, which will help you gain stability.  Used in conjunction with other therapies and treatments, SelectFlex  can help keep your mature feet healthy and active for many more years to come.