If you are the caregiver for an aging relative, paying attention to their feet can be just as important as other aspects of their health. There are ways you can help your relative maintain good foot care, even if they have physical limitations.
Do Routine Foot Checkups
Your elderly relative may have a difficult time checking their own feet for any signs of abrasions or changes. As a caregiver, you should do weekly inspections of their feet to determine if they need their nails trimmed or if you notice signs of infection. Always make sure to ask if your relative notices any problems with their feet feeling cold easily or if they have pain in their feet. These could be warning signs of neuropathy, which is especially common if your relative has diabetes.
Help With Nail Trimming
Thick nails can be more common as your relative ages, which can make trimming their own toenails more difficult. Offer assistance to help trim their nails or consider taking them for a pedicure. If their nails are especially hardened, they should be trimmed by a podiatrist to prevent damage to their feet.
Between podiatrist visits for nail trimming, you can use a nail file to help file away sharp edges that can eventually embed in the skin. You can also use the nail file to help shorten the length of the nails. To make the process easier, help your relative soak their feet to soften the nail before filing. When you are trimming or filing their nails, keep an eye out for signs of fungal infections, such as yellowing or crumbling of their nails.
Look For Problems With Footwear
Check for any signs that your relative's footwear is causing additional problems. You may notice impressions around their ankle when they remove their socks or areas on their feet where callouses or corns are forming. Socks can easily become tight around the ankles throughout the day, due to edema. You may want to help your relative find socks with more elasticity around the ankle to accommodate for swelling throughout the day.
When your relative needs new shoes, go shopping toward the end of the day for more accurate sizing. If your relative has any days when they go shopping or walking, it is better to have them sized after these activities. Since feet are naturally larger later in the day, it is more likely your relative's next pair of shoes will be comfortable throughout the day.
Be cautious when selecting shoes that could create a fall risk, such as ones with long laces. Make sure you are available when your relative starts wearing their new shoes regularly. If they are prone to balance or gait problems, adjusting to new shoes can also add to their fall risk.
If your relative has decreased mobility and flexibility, it can be difficult for them to maintain their normal foot care. Simple weekly foot checkups can help you and you relative notice foot problems before they become serious. For more information, contact Aiken Maurice W, DPM PA or a similar medical professional.