Taking care of your elderly loved one's feet can avoid serious issues.

Of all the different areas of the body which require good care, it seems that caring for the feet often gets the least attention, and yet they provide us humans with a crucial ability for transporting ourselves. We walk, run, jog, swim, and dance using our feet, and whenever they're hurt or otherwise unable to function normally, our quality of life is severely diminished. Your home care professionals throughout the area of Marysville and elsewhere would like to take this opportunity to urge everyone to consider their feet on August 17th, which is National I Love My Feet Day in this country. 

Even without incurring any serious injury, our feet come under tremendous stress every day, from a number of different sources. Some older adults wear improperly fitting shoes that can pinch off circulation or cause other damage to the toes and skin. Toenails might not get trimmed as often or as well as they should, and that can lead to ingrown toenails and other problems. Bad circulation in the feet can cause skin tissue to die off and lead to even more serious issues.

So what can be done to reverse, or at least slow the progress of damage to our under-considered feet? In addition to some occasional pampering, like a nice soak or a relaxing foot massage, there are lots of small ways that foot care for the elderly can be improved through caring family members and caregivers. Some of the best tips for foot care are described below, and with the one day of the year coming up where feet get their due, this is a good time to remember some of them and put them into practice with our elderly loved ones.

Keep toenails trimmed

This can prevent a number of issues with the feet, but many elderly persons are not able to reach their toes because of flexibility issues. To help keep your loved one's toes trimmed properly, make sure that they get trimmed no shorter than the tips of the toes, and that trimming goes straight across the toenail. If anything looks amiss with your parent's toenails, have them trimmed by a qualified podiatrist rather than at a nail salon.

Prevent fungal infections

Fungal infections get started when moisture is consistently present around the feet, so make sure that socks or stockings are changed as often as necessary to prevent this. If there seems to be a problem with moisture, using a good foot powder should help dry that up. If your loved one complains of persistent itching or burning, you should schedule a trip to the podiatrist to have it checked out, before something nasty develops.

Buy properly fitting shoes

There are a surprising number of issues which can develop from badly fitting shoes. It's very easy to develop blisters that can worsen if you have footwear that's too loose, and rubs or slides around your feet as you move. By the same token, you should not wear shoes which are too tight either, because those can cause circulation problems. High-heeled shoes, pointy shoes, and shoes that have slippery bottoms should all be avoided, because all of them can promote slipping and falling, which is considerably more dangerous for the elderly. 

Wear shoes indoors and outdoors

No one would wonder about having to wear shoes outdoors, with the possibility of sustaining cuts, scrapes, and falling objects. But wearing shoes indoors is almost as important, and for all the same reasons - it is still possible to sustain cuts and scrapes or to have some heavy object fall on the feet while thus exposed. Many elderly persons prefer to wear slippers for the sheer comfort of it, and while these do provide some level of protection, they are not as sturdy as a real leather shoe would be.

Promote good circulation

There are several things that can be done to improve your elderly loved one's feet circulation, starting with the occasional massage already mentioned. When your parent is relaxing though, have their feet propped up on the couch or possibly on a footstool, to reduce the likelihood of swelling. When sitting for significant periods of time, have your parent wiggle their toes and move their feet around, so blood is forced to move through the feet and toes. Daily stretching can also provide a boost to circulation that will maintain good flow because of the activity. And lastly - if your parent is a smoker, do everything you can to encourage them to quit.

Regular podiatrist visits

At least once a year, or however frequently your doctor recommends, you should take your senior parent to the podiatrist, to be sure that nothing is developing which could cause feet problems. All kinds of early-stage foot issues can be caught by being vigilant in this way, so that warts, hammertoes, bunions, bone spurs, and neuromas, never get the chance to blow up into major problems that will require serious treatment.