Elderly Foot and Nail Care Tips from Top Milwaukee Podiatrists
Proper Foot Care for Senior Feet Prevents Further Injury and Protects Health
The older we get, the more important it is to take good care of our feet. For many reasons, foot health tends to decline in seniors. Reasons why senior citizens experience common foot problems include:
- Years of walking, working and healing from injuries
- Low quality, too small or uncomfortable footwear
- Poor circulation
- Increased risk of diabetes, gout, heart disease and other diseases causing foot problems
- Difficulty properly trimming toenails due to impaired vision or mobility
Left untreated, common elderly foot symptoms can quickly worsen and lead to more dangerous issues like falls and infections. Learn how to take care of aging feet and the best nonsurgical treatment options for pain relief.
Contact a Milwaukee-area podiatry clinic for a foot assessment and personalized preventative care recommendations.
Common Symptoms and Foot Disorders among Elderly
It’s important to address any foot issue early, as foot pain can often be an early warning sign of a more serious health condition such as arthritis, circulatory disease, gout or diabetes.
Seniors or caretakers should seek professional advice for:
- Brittle or discolored toenails
- Burning or tingling in feet or toes
- Discoloration or cold/numb feet
- Chronic or acute pain in feet and ankles
- Blisters or cracked skin
- Sores or wounds
Even when elderly foot pain isn’t a sign of a more serious problem, it can still cause pain in the knees, hips or back and lead to decreased activity. Aging skin becomes thinner and less elastic, which makes blisters and corns more common.
Common geriatric foot problems include:
- Diabetic ulcers
- Corns & calluses
- Ingrown toenails
- Fungal infections (Athlete’s foot)
Many of these symptoms can be mitigated with proper foot care. Decreased circulation may mean an elderly patient doesn’t always feel uncomfortable symptoms in their feet, so it’s important to establish a routine of healthy foot maintenance.
Tips for maintaining elderly foot health:
- Inspect feet and nails regularly
- Use mild soap to wash feet, and always dry thoroughly
- Use lotion as needed to prevent dry, itchy or cracked skin
- Wear properly fitting shoes and clean cotton socks
- Elevate feet using a footstool or cushion when seated
- Don’t sit with legs crossed
- Trim toenails regularly
Elderly individuals unable to care for their own feet are encouraged to contact a podiatrist for periodic foot care appointments.
Elderly Diabetic Foot Care
Seniors with diabetes must be even more vigilant about foot care. Diabetes often damages blood vessels in feet. As a result, wounds heal more slowly and may develop gangrene. A small issue like a corn or blister can develop into a serious infection and may even lead to amputation.
Diabetes also damages nerves in feet, making small injuries harder to detect. Elderly diabetic patients can reduce risk of diabetic foot problems with careful attention to foot health daily.
Diabetic seniors are urged to learn and practice good foot care habits. In addition to the tips listed above, it’s important to:
- Visually check feet every single day
- Always wear socks and shoes, even indoors
- Carefully wash feet daily
- If possible, safely increase activity level to promote circulation
- Do not smoke
Diabetic Foot Care for Elderly Hispanic Population
Research shows Latino seniors have lower self-monitoring of blood sugar (glucose) and suffer from worse glycemic control. Studies further suggest diabetic elderly Hispanic patients may have a greater risk of renal disease, which can also contribute to foot pain.
It is crucial for all diabetic individuals of any age or ethnicity to practice good self-care focusing on foot health.
Toenail Care for the Elderly
Toenails should be carefully trimmed on a regular basis and kept clean and short. Long nails are more likely to snag, break or accidentally scratch the skin. When trimming, check the area around the nail for signs of an ingrown nail, hangnail or fungus.
Proper toenail trimming procedure:
- Cut nails after a shower or bath, or use a foot soak to soften toenails
- Sanitize nail clippers by boiling or cleaning with rubbing alcohol
- Wash your hands before and after cutting your toenails
- Trim nail straight across without curving down at the ends
- Never cut calluses on the feet or nail bed
Elderly patients often struggle with proper toenail care for various reasons including failing eyesight, reduced flexibility or arthritis in hands making it difficult to use toenail trimmers.
Elderly Foot Care Services from Caring Milwaukee Foot Doctors
Many senior citizens feel embarrassed when they’re unable to trim their own toenails. We urge all elderly patients struggling with foot care to contact our compassionate foot doctors for an appointment.
We strive every day to put the care back into patient care. Our expert podiatrists will handle any foot issue or question you may have while making you feel comfortable.