Foot Care For The Elderly With Diabetes

by | Jun 24, 2024 | Blog

Foot care may sometimes be a neglected aspect of a person’s daily routine for many reasons; but sometimes it may be just a matter of out of sight, out of mind. For diabetic persons though, foot care is essential. According to the Pan American Health Organization, they have identified an epidemic of Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (N.C.D.s) in the Caribbean. The National Institute of Health also noted that the most common complication of diabetes requiring hospital admission was foot infection

Why is Skin Care Important for Healthy Feet

Cuts and bruises may go unnoticed on the feet, as many persons may not pay attention to their feet, or in the case of diabetics, sensations may decrease drastically and, as such, cuts and bruises may be missed. For a diabetic person, this can cause severe complications, and as such, healthy feet are important.

To have healthy feet, skin-care for the feet is essential. Healthy skin overall is an indication of good health as the body will distribute nutrients to essential organs first (eg heart, lungs, brain etc) before the skin. As such, healthy skin reflects overall health. Healthy skin is important because the skin is the body’s first line of defense and the most important. The skin keeps things out and if the harmful elements are kept out, they can’t cause complications; prevention is better than cure.

Dry skin may cause cracks in the skin, called fissures, which may be painful and difficult to heal. Broken skin on the feet can also increase susceptibility to infection. Keeping the skin moist and supple will prevent this complication.

Diabetics may have hardening of the arteries, called atherosclerosis, which decreases circulation, especially in the legs. Decreased circulation in the legs causes challenges for venous return, that is blood back to the heart, which decreases the overall health of the skin on the feet. Poor circulation may lead to less nutrients, deteriorating skin, and infections.

Routine foot care may prevent complications. If you inspect your feet, care for them, and use preventative measures, this will prevent complications from occurring, which is particularly important for diabetic persons who are affected so drastically by poor foot care.

Steps On How To Keep The Feet Healthy

Step 1

Keep the feet clean – this will reduce the number of bacteria and fungus on the feet, which in turn decreases the risk of infection. Wash the feet thoroughly with an appropriate cleanser, and ensure when you dry the feet you dry every aspect, especially between the toes.

Step 2

Inspect feet thoroughly and often – especially between the toes. Diabetics may have decreased sensations in the feet, and so may not feel when they get a cut or bruise. If that wound goes unattended it may get infected and worst case, the tissue/flesh may die.

Step 3

Apply a moisturizer. Usually, oil and lotion-based moisturizers may provide more of a lubricating effect, but cream-based preparations have more of a moisturizing effect.

Foot Care Tips

Keep the nails on the toes short by using a nail file. Using clippers may be too risky, as the surrounding skin may get nicked/cut in error. Filing will prevent this. If the person with Diabetes has issues such as ingrown nails or bunions, visit a Podiatrist to deal with these issues.

Wear proper fitting shoes to prevent damage to tissue from the internal pressure exerted on the feet in a shoe that is too tight. This also applies to socks and stockings. Make sure it fits comfortably with no bulging or squeezing. Pressure can damage tissue causing a break in skin.

Ensure footwear is properly inspected and dusted out to get rid of any objects that may be within. These objects may cause a dent in the skin, creating possible tissue damage and skin breakage. Also, inspect socks and stockings for blood to determine if a wound may have been missed.

Don’t walk bare-footed as the risk of attaining a cut or bruise is too high.

Ask the doctor to inspect a diabetic patient’s feet at every visit just to be on the safe side. There may be signs of a wound/ulcer forming that you may not have noticed or recognized which the doctor may pick up on, and intervene in a timely manner.

The best way to improve any foot care regime is to ensure that the blood sugar is measured and monitored frequently, the person sticks to their dietitian-designed diet, be active, and take their medication as prescribed.

As an elderly person with Diabetes, there may be many complications involved, but foot health does not have to be one of them.

Photo by How-Soon Ngu on Unsplash