While it becomes difficult for elderly men and women to bend over and take care of their own feet and toenails, there are a number of diseases and conditions that become more serious and are more prevalent among the elderly, report doctors at Toback Podiatry. Common foot disorders among the elderly include diabetic ulcers, ingrown nails, fungus, arthritis and corns and calluses. When aging adults can no longer take care of their own feet and toenails, there are steps you can take to mitigate foot problems and keep patients mobile and comfortable.
Inspect the feet on regularly. By noticing irregularities and when it's time for routine maintenance, you can help to prevent more serious problems. The circulation slows down during the aging process, and many elderly patients don't feel their feet as well as they used to and may not notice problems that would have bothered them in the past.
Keep the feet warm and dry to avoid fungal infections and reduced circulation. Make sure to thoroughly dry an elderly person's toes and between the toes after bathing. Put on clean cotton socks after you've dried the feet.
Wash their feet with a mild soap that won't dry the skin as quickly as harsh soaps. Apply lotion to feet when dry to prevent cracking and itching.
Cut toenails straight across without curving on the edges. When the nail breaks through the skin after cutting nails too close, then ingrown toenails can develop. Use clippers to cut nails to make an even cut.
Check that the elderly person has proper fitting shoes. Poorly fitting shoes are responsible for a number of conditions, such as spurs, corns and calluses and can contribute to fungal infections.
Give your elderly charges a footstool to use when seated. Doctors at the National Institute on Aging report that by keeping their feet elevated, the elderly can maintain better foot circulation. Remind your senior not to sit with her legs crossed for extended periods of time either to avoid cutting the circulation off.
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.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."