Caregivers: Tips for Caring for Your Patient’s Feet
Caregivers are a valued and crucial part of the healthcare community. Caregivers can be members of a family or nurses at a medical facility, but either way, offering help to those who need it most is an honorable job that can be very difficult. When it comes to caring for someone else’s feet, it is important to consider a few key points to not only improve quality of life but to avoid injury and infection.
Preventative foot care should never be considered a luxury, but an important part of overall wellness care. This rings especially true for those with diabetes or other conditions that affect circulation to the feet or lower extremities. Regular care can mean the difference between keeping a limb or losing it. If you are caring for someone with a chronic condition, it’s important to inspect their feet daily, even if they are mobile.
Start by giving their feet a thorough visual exam, followed by a gentle tactile exam. For problematic feet, you may need to do this more than once a day. Check for bumps, sores, lesions, pressure sores, ulcers and any other questionable looking areas. Report any concerning findings with their podiatrist.
It may seem obvious, but washing your patient’s feet daily with warm water and soap goes a long way in preventing bacterial or fungal infections. While this person may take a bath or shower daily, it’s important to wash in between the toes and on the soles of the feet rather than simply letting the water run over the feet. This is even more important for those who are immobile and are taking bed baths, where their feet don’t get a good soaking. In addition, trimming the toenails regularly and correctly prevents painful conditions like ingrown toenails. Feet with poor circulation can quickly become dry and cracked, so applying a moisturizing cream to the feet can prevent open sores and cracks.
If the individual is wheelchair bound or bedridden, wearing padded socks that don’t confine or restrict movement of the feet and toes but protect the heels from pressure ulcers is important. Likewise, immobile patients should not cross their legs for long periods of time, which can restrict blood flow to the legs and feet and create pressure sores. Be sure to regularly move the individual by changing their leg position every few hours to increase blood flow to the legs and feet. Lastly, encourage appropriate physical activity, however, limited it may be. An appropriate amount of exercise goes a long way in reducing the risk of lower extremity complications.
If you do detect the beginnings of an ulcer, sore or other foot problem, don’t wait to address the issue. Be proactive in reducing the chance of infection or complications by helping your patient make an appointment with a podiatrist right away. If caught early, many problems can be treated effectively, which is especially crucial in diabetic patients as well as those who are bedridden or otherwise immobile.
As a caregiver, you are a valued member of the healthcare continuum, and giving your patient daily foot exams can reveal a lot about their overall health. It is also a good idea to have regular foot exams performed by a podiatrist so they can spot any hidden symptoms that may be indicative of an underlying condition. To set up a time to come in for an exam, request an appointment with one of our podiatric specialists today for a foot exam by clicking here or call any of our convenient office locations in the Piedmont Triad.
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