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Negligence of foot care for your elderly parents can lead to severe health complications, such as dry skin, calluses and corns, ingrown toenails, foot infections, and more. Read these essential tips to trim toenails and fingernails in the elderly.


Learn How to Trim Toenails and Fingernails in Elderly Parents


As your elderly loved ones age, the skin of their feet starts losing elasticity and thickness. These age-related changes leave them vulnerable to blisters and foot infections. Foot infections, in particular, can cause various health complications, limiting mobility and affecting their quality of life. Additionally, things can worsen further if your elderly dear ones have a weakened immune system or diabetes.



How to Trim Toenails and Fingernails in Elderly

How to Trim Toenails and Fingernails in Elderly



That said, if you have an elderly in your family, you may be wondering how to give them a pedicure and keep their feet healthy. Remember that due to physical reasons like lack of flexibility, weak eyesight, and difficulty reaching the toes, your elderly loved ones need assistance trimming toenails or fingernails. They will appreciate your help when experiencing these inevitable obstacles.


While calling a podiatrist to prevent foot infections, blisters, etc., is always an option, you can also provide your elderly with primary foot care at home to keep them mobile and independent. Today, we will discuss how to trim toenails and fingernails in the elderly and proceed cautiously. After all, providing in-home assistance to your elderly dear one is much more than just a pedicure.


So, let’s get started!


Essential Tips on How to Trim Toenails and Fingernails in the Elderly

1.      Make Toenails Pliable


Thicken toenails in the elderly are a common problem, and they can be very challenging for you to trim effectively. Toenails become stiff and thick for several reasons, such as fungal nail infection, tight footwear, poor circulation, etc. So, it is essential to soften toenails before trimming.

Here is how you can soften up the toenails of your elderly parent to trim them effectively:


  • Soak in Water


One effective way to soften thickened, hardened toenails is to soak the feet in a bowl of warm water. Depending on how complex the toenails are of your elderly dear one, washing their feet for at least 30 minutes should help soften up the toenails. Moreover, you can also add mild soap or Epsom salt to the water before soaking the feet.


  • Nail Nippers


Alternatively, you can use nail nippers for trimming hardened, thickened toenails of the elderly. Nail nippers are tools designed for cutting thickened nails. They are light, made of stainless steel, and readily available at drugstores.

However, before you use nail nippers to trim the toenail of your elderly loved one, be very careful as these tools are incredibly sharp. Moreover, use these tools to trim straight across rather than rounding the toenail at the corner. Remember that cutting toenails with rounded corners can develop ingrown toenails in the elderly.


  • Softening Cream


In addition to nail nippers, applying softening cream to the toenails is another effective way to trim hardened, thickened toenails. While using a toenail softening cream, apply it to the nails during the nighttime. Then, the toenails should be softer the following day, and you can easily trim them. Additionally, before using a softening cream on the nails, ensure to read the instructions on the package for practical use.





2.      Use the Right Tools


Thickened, hardened nails of your elderly loved one can be challenging to trim, even after soaking. You may also find that your regular clipper or scissor cannot do the job. So, it is essential to use the right tools for trimming effectively.

Tools for Trimming Nails

Tools for Trimming Nails


You can get special nail clippers explicitly designed to cut thicker nails. Moreover, while cutting the toenails or fingernails of your elderly parents, be extra cautious to prevent any injury. Additionally, ensure to cut the nails straight and use the file to smooth out rough edges.


3.      Podiatrist or Pedicurist?


If your elderly dear one is experiencing a severe underlying condition, it is best to consult with a podiatrist. A certified pedicure may provide adequate foot care for the elderly, but the expertise of a professional podiatrist is essential.


For instance, your elderly dear one might have a weakened immune system, so they are more prone to developing a foot infection. Similarly, other seniors may be experiencing a fungal infection that can cause deformed toenails or fingernails. That said, keep in mind that spas or saloons aren’t armed with the appropriate tools to handle such problems in such circumstances.

How to Trim Toenails

How to Trim Toenails

Moreover, the elderly with diabetes often experience poor circulation, especially in the feet. So, ingrown toenails or even a small cut can lead to a severe infection that can be challenging to treat.


In addition to trimming toenails or fingernails effectively, a professional podiatrist can also help you check for infections and provide you advice on what footwear you should wear and how to prevent potential foot problems associated with age.


Preventive Nail Care for Seniors


Like any other body part, our nails also undergo various age-related changes. They can become thick and stiff, take longer than usual to grow, and become dull and brittle. Our toenails or fingernails can also change color, turning yellow or opaque.


As if duller, brittle nails aren’t enough, the elderly are more at risk of developing fungal infections around or on their nails. These fungal infections are a common concern and usually appear on the toenails of the elderly. While wearing proper footwear and socks helps prevent the risk of falls, wearing shoes all day keeps the feet warm and moist, encouraging fungus to grow.

How to Trim Toenails and Fingernails in Elderly

How to Trim Toenails and Fingernails in Elderly


According to research, the nails of your elderly dear ones can disclose signs of underlying diseases. So, it is essential for seniors to take extra preventive measures and care for their fingernails and toenails to prevent infections or fungus. Unfortunately, while nail care is a critical aspect of personal grooming, it is often underestimated.


Here are a few tips for keeping the fingernails and toenails of your elderly dear ones healthy as they age:


  • Visit Your Podiatrist Regularly


Ingrown toenails and fungus are a common concern for many seniors. These conditions can lead to further infections, primarily because of a lack of nail care and poor trimming techniques. For instance, an elderly in your family may not be able to reach their toenails, or someone else in the family may trim their nails in a rounded shape. This can leave them more susceptible to infections or ingrown toenails.


However, visiting a professional podiatrist more often will help you assess overall foot health while performing proper toenails or fingernail trimming techniques. If you cannot cut nails on your own, you can ask your podiatrist for assistance during your visit.


Moreover, suppose you or your elderly family member has diabetes. In that case, it is recommended that you shouldn’t try to trim your own fingernails or toenails to decrease the risk of developing an infection.


  • Let Your Feet Breathe


While it is a good idea for the elderly to wear proper footwear and socks to prevent the risk of falls, it is equally essential for seniors to give their feet a chance to breathe. In this regard, find time daily to expose your feet to the fresh air.


Moreover, take off your socks and footwear when watching TV or going to bed. Also, soaking your feet in warm Epsom salt is an excellent idea. Similarly, older women who love wearing nail polish should let their fingernails and toenails breathe as well.


You can skip the nail polish during in-home manicure or pedicure sessions. Furthermore, see the fall and winter seasons as an “off-season” for wearing nail polish.


  • Trim Nails Regularly


Preventing nail care for the elderly also means keeping your nails clean and short. Hazardous germs, dirt, and dead skin cells love to develop under fingernails. However, regularly trimming your nails will help keep those nasty germs and dirt at bay.


Moreover, while washing your hands or feet, try using a fingernail brush to scrub under fingernails and toenails to dislodge any gunk. Keeping your toenails and fingernails clean and short is the most effective way to minimize the risk of germs and infections.


Furthermore, if you have thicker, hardened nails, soak them in warm bath water before trimming. Additionally, if you feel confident, you can cut your nails after a bath when they are soft. It is highly recommended to check your nails every week and trim or file them as necessary.


  • Eat Nutritiously


Another essential factor of elderly fingernails and toenails care is consuming proper nutrients. These essential nutrients are great for keeping your nails strong and healthy. One of the practical and more natural ways to improve your nails is to consume more leafy veggies, fruits, lean meats, beans, salmon, nuts, eggs, and whole grains.


Moreover, ensure that you or your elderly dear one is getting adequate calcium and vitamins A, B, and C. Consulting with your local podiatrist can help determine what vitamins and supplements are appropriate for your nails.


Wrapping Up


Fingernails and toenails care for the elderly are as crucial as other personal hygiene tasks. Yet, some elderly, especially those suffering from dementia, diabetes, or Alzheimer’s, struggle with taking proper care of their nails and overall health. So, assisting your elderly dear ones with nail trimming is great for preventing ingrown toenails and foot infections and helping them with their mobility. Also, ensure that your elderly parent is getting proper nutrients.


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