It is possible for diabetes to result in nerve damage that affects the feet by causing them to lose feeling and by reducing circulation to them. Because of this, many seniors with diabetes can’t feel it when a foreign object in a shoe irritates their feet. Unfortunately, diabetes also makes it harder to heal an injury or resist infection, and even a tiny cut can have serious consequences.
Along with controlling blood sugar levels, foot care is an essential part of daily living for those with diabetes. To prevent serious problems that may result in losing a toe, foot or leg, follow these guidelines.
Keep the right tools on hand
Diabetic foot care starts with assembling a toolkit containing everything necessary for proper health: nail clippers, a nail file, moisturizer, and a hand mirror (preferably a magnifying one).
Inspect the feet every day
Seniors with diabetes and their caregiver (should they have one) must make foot checks a regular part of care. Examine the feet for cuts, swelling, redness, blisters, dry skin, and issues with the nails. The magnifying hand mirror in your kit can provide a closer look at the bottom of your feet should there be mobility issues.
Make sure to call a healthcare professional if anything is noticed. Seeing a foot and ankle surgeon can help prevent many of the complications diabetes can have on the feet. If you see corns or calluses, let a professional treat them – neither seniors nor their caregivers should try at-home treatment (unless the caregiver is specially trained).
Gently bathe the feet
The feet should be washed every day, with special attention given to them during regular bathing routines. Seniors and caregivers should only use lukewarm water, never hot (think the temperature one would use when washing a baby). Wash the feet with a sponge or soft washcloth, drying them with a patting motion, being careful to dry between the toes.
Follow the washing by using moisturizer to keep dry skin from itching or cracking. Seniors can also consider using an antiperspirant on the soles of their feet should they have excessive sweating in this area.
Clip toenails properly
Toenail care is also important because if they are allowed to get too long or too short, it can lead to the development of sores, cuts, or ingrown nails. Cut the nails straight across, filing the edges. If you have concerns or notice an ingrown nail, clean the area and consult a healthcare professional.
Seniors should wear proper socks and footwear
Socks should always be clean and dry, changed every day, and – if the feet get cold at night – worn to bed. Diabetic socks have extra cushioning without elastic tops, and they go higher than the ankle. These specialized socks are made from fibres that wick moisture away from the skin.
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