Foot Care and Diabetes in the Elderly

Taking care of the feet of elderly people is very important for several reasons:

Firstly, the strength of one’s feet determines posture and the distribution of weight so that weak feet can cause balance problems. This can put elderly people at increased risk of falls and serious injuries such as hip fractures.

Secondly, the condition of the feet can be an indication of the state of health for diabetics and can often be a sign of problems.

In diabetics, seemingly minor foot problems can pose major threats to the health because diabetes can reduce the blood supply to the feet and cause a loss of feeling known as peripheral neuropathy. This can mean foot injuries don’t heal well and the person may not notice if their foot is sore or injured. So, a simple blister or corn if left unattended can become a life-threatening infection that forces foot or leg amputation. It is therefore especially important for elderly people to take care of their feet and there are several ways in which to do this.

Always wear socks and shoes while walking around. Going barefoot increases the risk of injuries that may not heal properly. The inner lining of shoes should be smooth, and toenails should be trimmed regularly.

Feet should be examined regularly, if not daily, and injuries such as a callus or corn, or a blister, scrape, cut, or bruise that doesn’t begin to heal within one day need proper attention from a chiropodist or podiatrist. Do not use over-the-counter solutions to remove corns.

Improperly fitting shoes can cause heel spurs, where calcium deposits to form on heel causing considerable pain and discomfort.

Ingrown toenails occur when a sharp piece of nail pierces the skin surrounding the nailbed. Rather than trying to pull it off, the nail should be carefully trimmed straight across so that it is even with the top of the toe.

Hammertoes are especially problematic for elderly people because they can affect balance and raise the risk of falls. Again, this emphasises the importance of properly fitting shoes giving the toes room to move.

Regular exercise to stimulate the blood circulation is important too as is ensuring properly fitting shoes and not wearing the same shoes all the time.