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Easy Foot Exam to Help Seniors Check for Diabetes

By Lee Nyberg, 9:00 am on

The high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can cause damage to a senior’s nerves and blood vessels. Because the feet are far away from the heart, they are often one of the first areas to start showing diabetes-related damage.

Diabetes is just one of many conditions aging adults are susceptible to. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional home care. Lincoln, NE, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life.

Use this foot exam to see if your senior loved one is showing the signs of diabetes.

Check Skin Condition

Diabetes tends to damage blood flow to the feet, causing many subtle changes in skin health. Carefully inspect the feet for any small ulcers or areas with thinning skin. In the early stages of diabetes, seniors may experience skin deterioration that makes the feet look patchy, dry, or irritated. Feet may look paler than the calves due to a lack of circulation.

Pay Attention to the Nails

Look at the toenails to see if they are yellow, white, or abnormally thick because these can all be symptoms of toenail fungus. Though it is possible to have toenail fungus without having diabetes, seniors with diabetes are over twice as likely to develop toenail fungus. This can lead to nails that look brittle, crumble easily, or have ragged edges.

Don’t Ignore Calluses

Calluses are often overlooked as a mild symptom caused by a lot of walking or improper shoe usage. However, in seniors with diabetes, calluses are typically a precursor to ulcers. Even if your loved one has no visible ulcers, a large amount of calluses may be a sign he or she has diabetes. Take the time to talk to your loved one to determine if the calluses are being caused by diabetes or external conditions such as the shoes he or she wears.

Test Skin Sensation

Have your loved one close his or her eyes while another person lightly taps your loved one’s feet and toes for a few seconds. Instruct your loved one to respond when he or she feels a touch. This test checks for numbness that can occur due to diabetes. If your loved one has diabetic neuropathy, he or she may no longer notice these light sensations. 

Check for Musculoskeletal Deformities

Just like calluses, minor deformities like bunions and hammertoes are often overlooked during less thorough examinations. The complicated disturbances and damages caused by diabetes can end up affecting the muscles, tendons, and bones of the feet. Any unusual foot deformities may be a cause for concern. If your loved one can walk, watch his or her gait for a few seconds to see if it looks abnormal.

Test Foot Circulation

If you are trained to measure pulses, check to see if the pulse in your loved one’s feet is thinner or duller than normal. Even if you do not have the experience to test pulse strength, you can look at the feet to see if they have any hair. Seniors who are otherwise hairy may not have any body hair on their feet if their circulation is poor. Other signs of poor circulation include pale and cold skin.

Research indicates type 2 diabetes may be linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. If your elderly loved one is living with Alzheimer’s and needs help managing the symptoms, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Alzheimer’s home care. Lincoln seniors can rely on our revolutionary Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program that helps slow cognitive decline and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. CTM also encourages seniors to engage with others in an enjoyable way and helps them build new routines to look forward to.

Caring for a senior loved one with diabetes or another serious condition can be overwhelming without assistance. If you are the primary caregiver for a senior loved one in Lincoln, respite care is available when you need time away from your important caregiving duties. At Home Care Assistance, our respite caregivers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help your loved one manage everyday tasks in the comfort of home while you have the chance to take a much-needed break. Call (402) 261-5158 today to learn more about our hourly respite care.