How-to Series: Caregiver 101 - Foot Care

Foot care is an important area of caregiving and every caregiver should know how to keep an eye out for potential foot problems.   Diabetic ulcers, ingrown nails, fungus, arthritis and corns and calluse are problems are that are more common in the elderly and can quickly become serious.  Maintenance and prevention are the two most important things you can do to avoid big problems later.

After you read the list, there is a video which shows good foot procedures, step by step for beginners.  Clipping other people's toenails can make some people nervous (me included!) so I have also included a link to  a toenail clipping video.  I hoped I would find one where they actually showed someone cutting real toenails, but I couldnt find one.   It has inspired us to start thinking about making our own how-to videos in the future, so stay tuned!

Tips for Good Foot Health  

1.  Keep floors and hallways clear of small objects. Small cuts lead to infections, and foot bruises hurt! 

2.  See a podiatrist on a regular basis, especially if your loved one is diabetic. Prevention and maintenance are the best sources of healthy feet. 

3.  Get to know thier feet! Inspect your client or loved ones feet on a regular basis...daily is even better. Circulation slows down during the aging process and sometimes it is hard for elderly people to feel thier feet as well as they used to, and they may be less likely to notice problems. If you are inspecting and caring for thier feet regularly, you will notice any irregularities and be able to avoid more serious problems. 

4.  Avoid walking barefoot. Always choose shoes or houseshoes that are supportive and have rubber soles. 

5.  Don't use commercial corn pads or medicines.  They often burn and irritate the skin, doing more damage.  The older our skin gets the more fragile and sensitive it is.  Call your podiatrist for advice on what medications to use. 

6.  Wash their feet with a mild soap that won't dry the skin. Thoroughly dry the feet. Apply lotion to feet when dry to prevent cracking and itching. Do not put lotion between the toes as it may lead to fungal infections. 

7.  Trim toenails straight across, not down into the corners. When the nail breaks through the skin after cutting nails too close, then ingrown toenails can develop. Avoid cutting nails too short. Nails should never be cut down to the skin. Use good toenail clippers to cut nails to make an even cut.  Watch this video to see how its done.  

8.  Keep feet clean and dry to avoid fungal infections and reduced circulation. Clean dry feet in nice thick cotton socks should do the trick. Grab a footstool and elevate them when possible. 

Medicare covers many foot care services. People who have diabetes or circulation problems could suffer severe consequences if their feet and toenails are not properly maintained. Under some conditions, Medicare even covers routine foot maintenance. 

Diabetics who don't have good foot care risk developing serous problems that can lead to gangrene and amputation. Untreated ulcers and infections can lead to gangrene. Untended cuts, dry cracked feet and fungus under the nails can lead to ulcers and infections.

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