Health issues are an inevitable part of the aging process. Unfortunately, foot health is one of the most neglected aspects of general health, especially among the elderly. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, the average American has walked 75,000 kilometers by the time he or she reaches the age of 50. Read on to learn why foot care is an important part of home healthcare for seniors and how caregivers can help.
The Benefits of Regular Foot Care for Seniors:
1. Improves blood circulation –
Elderly people often suffer from poor circulation, which can delay the healing of foot ulcers. Lower lumbar discomfort can also be made worse by neglecting basic foot care. Foot massages have been shown to significantly increase blood flow. Gentle foot massages by caregivers are almost always appreciated by their clients and loved ones.
2. Improves mobility and independence –
Age-related changes to the skin’s thickness and elasticity make the elderly more susceptible to common foot ailments, including corns, blisters, and infections. They may also be unable to clip their own toenails, which can lead to problems like painful ingrown nails and fungal infections. In addition, a senior with foot issues is much more likely to become significantly less active, which may have severe repercussions on his or her physical and mental health. Regular foot care helps to improve mobility and independence.
3. Helps to detect health issues early –
Early indications of medical conditions in seniors are often spotted by observing their feet closely, a hallmark of quality home healthcare. This is important because the feet can show signs of overall health including symptoms of systemic diseases and conditions such as diabetes, neuropathy, and arthritis. For instance, an accumulation of dead skin on the feet might indicate a thyroid disease that requires treatment.
4. Lowers risk of falls –
Reduced activity levels in seniors can decrease foot strength and flexibility. Maintaining mobility for as long as possible is essential for strength and independence.
Tips for Helping Patients Maintain Healthy Feet
An elderly person with heart disease, diabetes, or any other health condition that leads to poor blood circulation to the feet needs extra care to maintain healthy feet. To better monitor and care for their client’s feet, caregivers should adopt the valuable tips below:
- Keep their feet clean
Since maintaining proper foot hygiene is essential for warding off fungal, viral, and bacterial illnesses, this everyday task may need to take place at a location other than the bathroom. Simply wiping their feet off with warm water, soap, and a washcloth on a daily basis is a good idea. Also, if done before bedtime, it can help seniors feel relaxed in preparation for quality sleep.
- Moisturize their feet
Since dry skin carries a greater risk of cracking, peeling, and breaking, keeping it moisturized is crucial for preventing open foot ulcers, especially among the elderly, whose skin tends to be drier. Applying foot lotions after cleaning and drying their feet is highly beneficial. This minimizes dehydration, which helps keep skin smooth and supple. Afterward, it may be helpful to put cotton socks on them to keep their feet warm and cozy.
- Clipping nails
Maintaining neatly clipped toenails is another important part of proper foot care. If nails become overgrown, they can cause discomfort and make it difficult to walk normally. Seniors with diabetes and other conditions that affect their feet need specialized care. For safety reasons, nail clipping is usually left up to a Podiatrist or other medical professional.
- Footwear that fits
Wearing proper shoes can have a significant impact on foot health. In addition to discomfort, putting on shoes that are too tight or too spacious can lead to blisters, calluses, or other foot problems. It can also limit mobility. The best shoes are closed-toe shoes that fit well, are comfortable, and provide adequate arch support. Heels greater than 1 inch should be avoided.
- Make blood circulation easier
Reduced blood flow to the lower extremities is a common problem among the elderly, especially those with disorders that restrict their mobility, such as diabetes or peripheral artery disease. As a result, potentially life-threatening complications like blood clots could form. Foot massages, propping up the lower legs when sleeping, and wearing compression socks are all great ways to increase blood flow to the feet.
Foot issues and disorders can be brought on by overuse, neglect, poorly fitting shoes, or even hereditary factors. Keeping a senior’s feet in good shape is essential to their general well-being since the feet support their entire body. Caregivers should diligently check on their senior’s feet on a routine basis and report any changes. Allcare Home Health is available for home healthcare needs. Call us today to hear about our in-home services.