Senior Foot Health: Top Tips from Family Caregivers

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Maintaining the appearance of one’s feet may seem frivolous to some, but proper foot care is an important component of a person’s overall health. Certain symptoms and podiatric issues can indicate more serious underlying conditions and can also affect a person’s mobility and quality of life.

It can be difficult for seniors with limited range of motion to give their feet, ankles and lower legs the care they need, so this aspect of personal care often falls to their family caregivers. However, something as simple as improperly trimming a loved one’s toenails can cause pain and even infection. For most people, adequate foot health actually involves far more than a regular pedicure at the salon.

It can be difficult and occasionally stomach-turning to handle a loved one’s foot care. For those caregivers who wish to outsource this job, deciding between going to a doctor’s office or a salon can also be confusing. Veteran caregivers offer their best advice on how to care for a loved one’s feet, whether they just need some aesthetic help or they are affected by a more serious condition such as arthritis, neuropathy, chronic swelling or other podiatric problems.

Where to Go for Foot Care: Podiatrist vs. Pedicurist

“Take your loved one for a spa pedicure every 2 months. For about $35 they exfoliate the feet, trim the nails and cuticles, prevent fungus, and salt scrub the calves. Oh, and they will LOVE the massage chair. I took my hubby once and now he's asking, ‘isn't it time for our pedicure?’ ” –pamstegma

“I would be careful when selecting a salon to do pedicures (especially if your loved one has diabetes). Many diabetics develop nail and other fungal issues. In this case, use only a podiatrist! Older folks have suppressed immune systems and I even know a friend that got MRSA from a salon! She was 27 and almost lost a foot! I am an RN and deal with this a lot!” –mary111

“When we were searching for a new podiatrist, I got lists of all the podiatrists at the hospital we use and called them one by one with my checklist. Most of them were quickly eliminated. Dad's current podiatrist ALWAYS checks for pedal pulse and skin integrity, making recommendations if appropriate. Her assistants prep the foot with little gauze pads between the toes, the doctor does the trimming and scraping of any excess growth on the top of the nails, then the assistant does some lotion application, etc. It's more like a spa treatment than just toenail clipping. She's the first one who's ever done that. If you do decide to go to a doctor's office, ask what services accompany the nail trimming. For older feet, I think it's always a good idea to check for pedal pulse and circulation issues.” –gardenartist

“I took Dad to the podiatrist recommended by his primary care physician, and said podiatrist informed us that he ‘doesn't do toenails!’ Luckily for us, the local VA clinic DOES ‘do’ toenails, and Dad qualifies for some services there as a WWII vet. In fact, it is looking like the VA is going to be the better choice for all those icky-picky little things, if not for overall care. They have some good things in place for helping their vets age in place as long as possible.” –1500miles

“Pedicurists do it all the time, even though it is illegal for them to work on feet that are infected, whether bacteriological or fungal. Further, it is never a good idea to have one's feet worked on by anyone other than a podiatrist if there's ANY circulatory conditions present, such as diabetes, venous insufficiency, peripheral artery disease, etc.” –CarolLynn

“My 83-year-old father is on blood thinners and HAS to go to a podiatrist. In the event he cut himself, he would be in serious trouble. Medicare pays for it, and I know he will get them done safely.” –samsmom43

“If your loved one is diabetic and has neuropathy and you take them to a salon, the salon needs to know about their conditions. Not all salons are created equal when it comes to dealing with diabetic feet. If the pedicurist buffs too hard and your loved one can't feel if they get hurt, they’re going to have more problems with a potential infection than just having long toe nails.” –NancyH

“I live in Jacksonville, FL, and there are some places that offer a ‘medical pedicure’ done by a podiatrist. It is done in a salon and my mom gets to sit in the chair and soak her feet in bubbly water. The podiatrist then trims up her toenails and files them down. Of course, she has thick nails. It costs about $45.00 and the doctor does not accept tips. It's a treat for her because it's more like a regular pedicure instead of having a podiatrist just clip her toenails and she gets pampered.” –GayleinJaxFL

“I am my mum's live-in caregiver and I have a LPN foot care nurse come to the house every 8 weeks to take care of my mum's toenails. Mum has a good foot soak, then the grinding wheel to file the nails because they are so thick, and then a foot massage. If they are done every 8 weeks, they won't be so difficult to do every time.” –anonymous182580

“Many older people are unable to safely care for their toenails. Medicare covers podiatrist care if the need is properly documented, and these professionals have the skills and implements to do the job without causing any further injury. This is most important for diabetics, but common sense for people who cannot see well or reach their feet to work safely. Sterile conditions are also important.” –hessaw

“The local senior center here has a ‘toe nail clinic’ once a month. Call your local Area Agency on Aging and see if they know of any senior centers, day care programs or other sites that have ‘toe nail clinics’ or a similar program. If so, you could make a lunch out of it as well and introduce your loved one (if they don’t go already) to the wonderful folks at your local senior center.” –HelenM

“I think seniors’ toenails get thick if not cut/trimmed. My mom’s nails are thicker and yellower than I ever recall seeing. I never even thought of toe nails or foot care when it came to caring for mom. Then one day I noticed that one of her toenails curves and punctures the skin on her toe. The pedicure place costs less than a podiatrist, so I took mom for one and she is now healed. If this had not corrected the issue, I would have taken her to a doctor. Now I take her regularly every other month or so for a pedicure. I always look at her toes now.” –momhouseme

Do-It-Yourself Foot Care Tips

“Take care of your feet and your loved one’s feet. Buy some Epsom salt and soak them, if nothing else. It feels so good and softens the toenails a little.” –123456Gaylynn

“I live in central Florida where it is hot and humid ALL YEAR LONG and about 5 years ago I got fungus under one of my big toenails! The nail grew very thick and was ugly yellow. I saw a doctor and was told that the meds for the fungus are so expensive that insurance will not pay unless there is some sort of unusual dire health consequence. Recently a friend told me that Vick’s VapoRub salve on the toe would get rid of it. I didn't really believe her, but I started massaging the end of my toe, the cuticle and the toenail with Vick’s every morning when I got out of the shower. It's been a couple of months now and the condition is improved by at least 50% or more. Looks MUCH better. Mine was maybe a milder case of fungus, but I'm sure glad I found out about this treatment. Because of the results I have seen so far, I think if I keep using it, then eventually my toe will be its old self again!” –graceterry

“Kerasil ointment (around ten dollars at the drug store) works well on heels that don't respond to anything else. If you use it nightly, within a week your heels will be better. I don't like the greasy feel, so don't use it often as I should, but regular lotions and creams do nothing for me.” –imaamy

“My husband can't reach his feet to scrub them, and he has problems with gross flaky skin. Every week I have to soak his feet in soapy water and then gently scrub the old flaky skin off with a wash cloth. A net poof or loofa sponge would be a good choice, too. His feet look so much better, and I don't mind scrubbing his feet because then I don't have to look at the grossness all week. If your loved one’s heels are cracking, there are several really good ointments for that. My favorite is the AVON heel and elbow cream with shea butter. Another good one is Bag Balm. Use these at bedtime and have them wear socks to keep the oil off the sheets.” –twotonne

“My dad would get sores on his feet and I would soak them in Epsom salt, let dry and then apply diabetic lotion. I would wrap his feet in a towel and then place them on a heating pad. He never complained about his feet being cold, and the sores healed very fast. It even cured the discoloration in some of his toes. A foot massage frequently helped blood circulation and brought comfort from the diabetic pain.” –Caregiverbob

“I took care of my mother-in-law’s hygiene, including her toenails. She had the thickest and longest ones I've ever seen. She hated having her toes done because she had sensitive, ticklish feet. I decided to try to make it a ‘treat’ for her, kind of like going to the spa. When they were all cleaned up, I would lay out a good handful of different nail polishes and have her choose which she'd like to have her toes painted with. She loved it so much that it was easy to get her into a routine. All I know is if you give them some sense of control and dignity, it's a lot easier because it's pretty much all they're asking for. That's all they really want anyway.” –Theresa911

“I soak my mother-in-law's feet in warm water with Epsom salt for about 20 minutes and wash her feet gently with a wash cloth. I blot them dry and gently, toe by toe, I remove buildup from beneath each nail and then trim them with clippers. She had one big toe nail that looked like it was going to fall off, but as I cleared all the buildup, I was able to cut the nail way back. After I finish all nails on both feet, I massage Neosporin cream on her toes and feet. Her feet look amazing, and she feels so good! I will now continue watching her foot health and mark my calendar to remind me to do this regularly.” –Katy315

“Remember, soaking their feet first is not just to clean the feet. It also softens the nails and makes cutting and filing easier. Even when doing my own feet, I always do them right after a bath or shower. It makes the whole process easier and the skin smoother. As a retired cosmetologist, I've done many pedicures.” –Sandra93

“Coconut oil also works on fungus infections. I know several people who have used it successfully.” –golden23

“There is rarely a need to actually cut their toenails. I took care of my Mom’s THICK nails for 8 years. All you do is take an emery board and very gently file them down. I filed in the downward direction, from the top of the toe down. Very easy. You can do it when they are sleeping or with music on. Actually, it’s barely noticeable. My mom would pull her foot away sometimes, but it worked fine. She used to have a podiatrist at the daycare do it for $40, and they would only cut straight across, leaving them very sharp. I thought it was pretty useless. Get some different strength files from a beauty supply store. It works fine.” –Reverseroles

“I'm only 54 and have had thick toenails for at least the last 10 years. I practice good hygiene and trim my nails. My sister has the same problem, and her doctor told her it is a fungal infection and to use tea tree oil on her toenails twice a day. The prescription for the fungus can damage the liver, so her doctor won't prescribe it. Trim the nails back as far as you can, then apply the oil twice a day for six months. My sis says it is improved but not cured, so it may take longer than six months. I am going to try it, too.” –anonymous99039

“I always maintained my mother’s toenails. A small set of electronic snips does a wonderful job. Ingrown nails identify themselves by causing the flesh beside them to be bright pink from inflammation. Mom was diabetic and foot care was important, so I took it seriously.” –captain

Remedies for Foot Cramps

“I have periodic bouts with very painful foot cramps/spasms and the podiatrist gave me a prescription for something to rub into my feet. You can still massage your loved one to provide relief, but ask their doctor for a prescription and use the ointment as lubricant.” –Lolli47

“My mother complained of foot and leg pain and she used to get cramps in the middle of the night when she was sleeping (Charley horses). I started her on magnesium supplements. No more pain, no more night cramps.” –TooYoungForThis

“When my dad's feet or legs cramp, massage relieves them. You can feel where the spasms are. Rub your hands together all over to warm them up. Then start with the palm of your hand to broadly massage the foot. Get the whole area. Start below where the spasms are and work towards them. This should lessen the cramps. Then with your fingers and palms, give a deep massage where the cramp is. Massage until the cramps are relieved. You can also give your loved one mustard or pickles to relieve the cramp. I know it is weird, but it works.” –kathyt1

“Deficiencies in magnesium and potassium can cause wicked muscle cramps. My dear husband gets grapefruit-size, rock-hard knots in his leg muscles. The only way to relieve those is by his taking coconut water, Emergen-C in juice or water, and a magnesium glycinate or gluconate supplement. That takes those down very quickly. A deficiency in CoQ10 can also cause bad muscle cramps. When someone has bad muscle cramps, you can massage them 'til Kingdom Come, but they keep coming back with a vengeance. You really need to get magnesium and potassium into them to help the muscles relax.” –Chimonger

“After I broke my leg in my late 40s, it would cramp up on a regular basis so bad that I would uncontrollably scream out in pain and could not walk. The only things that helped were acupressure and TENS. I use the Tony Little TENS machine and I do my own acupressure. I was lucky because I happened on the acupressure point by accident and I knew about TENS therapy from previous injuries. Knowing where the cramps are coming from (at what point in the foot or leg they start) is important in order to know what pressure point to use or where to place the TENS pads. I highly recommend both. Each has virtually no side effects if done properly. You can consult a physical therapist for a while, just long enough to find out the pressure points and the place to put the TENS pads (and what strength to use). After that you can do it at home with little to no cost after the initial purchase of the TENS machine).” –wa22or

“Hylands Leg Cramps (available at Walmart and other places) works well for my husband. It also comes in a PM form.” –Judyjourneys

“It's important to get enough fluids in each day. If toxins aren't expelled from the body, then they build up and can cause some cramping. Zinc and magnesium are also important in muscle function, but I'd speak with your loved one’s regular doctor before adding a supplement just to make sure it doesn't interfere with any of their medications or other medical conditions. Sometimes raising the leg and pointing the toes straight out can help, also standing on it or putting that foot on a stair or block and pushing down on the heel can ease the cramping. Everyone is different.” –terryjack1

“I have had foot cramps and some calf cramps in the past. My foot doctor told me not to laugh, but to put a bar of soap at the end of the bed under the fitted sheets. I thought, ‘hey, I will try anything to not have those cramps.’ I might still get a little cramp now and then, but nothing like I was. I still have the soap in place, and it's been a couple of years. My husband uses a teaspoon of mustard, though. He swears by it. It's got turmeric in it and that's what does the trick. I've tried it and I say it tastes so bad that you forget about the cramping. :)” –pargirl

“My father used to eat a banana every day to keep his potassium levels up. His doctor had recommended it to prevent his nighttime leg and foot cramps, and it worked for him.” –bweichbr

“Is your loved one immobilized (i.e. bedridden or wheelchair bound)? If so, swelling could be due to fluid building up in their extremities due to immobility. You can try elevating their feet so they are above their heart and see if it helps. Varicose veins can attribute to fluid backup too. HOWEVER, swelling can also indicate a more serious condition, like congestive heart, liver or kidney failure to mention a few. I would definitely recommend making an appointment with the doctor just to be on the safe side.” –yaya51

“The lady I care for is 89, and she had swollen ankles and feet. Soon, her entire lower legs suddenly began to swell. She refused to go to the doctor, but eventually relented. The doctor immediately admitted her into the hospital. After much investigation and treatment, it turned out that she had taken a fall and had a hair line fracture in her hip. She didn’t want to tell any of the caregivers that she had gotten up out of bed to use her toilet without calling for assistance. Then to make matters worse, her cat had scratched her leg the previous week resulting in cellulitis. That fracture coupled with water retention and cellulitis made her feet and legs swell. Swelling could be from any number of issues, so don't wait to take your loved one to the doctor if it occurs suddenly!” –Calicaregiver

“My mom has congestive heart failure (CHF) and has swelling in her legs and ankles. There are times when her feet and toes get a purplish look and I have her start wiggling those toes and doing ankle pumps, which actually helps the circulation. Mom usually goes barefoot, so I can see the color change. She has Raynaud’s Syndrome in her hands and it seems like it must be related. We elevate her feet, do exercises and take alternating Tylenol and Advil. She takes Lasix for fluid, but we need to watch the amount closely. If your loved one is having issues like these, have them see a cardiologist and get checked out.” –glasshalffull

“Excess swelling can be due to something else going on with their health. I know when my kidneys were not filtering like they should, I had swollen legs and feet at end of the day. The diabetes doctor gave me some Lasix to help get the fluid buildup out of my legs.” –lildeb

“My mother was diagnosed with congestive heart failure (CHF) in October. She weighed over 211 pounds and is not even 5 feet tall. She had swelling in her feet and legs. At the suggestion of the home care nurse, we used ace bandages wrapped around her feet and lower legs during the day to prevent the swelling. You may want to see if you can get your loved one fitted with some type of compression stockings as they can help with the swelling.” –klus263

“My father-in-law has swelling and discoloration in his lower legs and feet. He has no heart or blood pressure issues, but the valves in his veins are weak, causing the blood to pool. Since he began wearing compression stockings, exercising more, and elevating his legs, his pain, discoloration, and swelling have greatly reduced. Sometimes his extremities stay a healthy color for days when he does all of the aforementioned.” –cwagner1

“If elevation doesn’t work, try tucking their feet in a cool foot bath (add Epsom salts if you want). The cold water will reduce the swelling and ease the tension in their muscles and ligaments. Once the swelling has gone down (hopefully most of it), massage their feet with plenty of peppermint-scented foot lotion and make sure you really knead the muscles and tendons to get the tension out. Elevating their feet to a 90-degree angle from their hips to increase circulation and allow fluids to drain can feel ‘undignified.’ That's probably why many seniors refuse to do it, even if it's only 45 degrees. It makes me feel weird, and I don't have any real foot problems unless I overdo it on a tennis court. Now a warning: they might grow to expect the cool foot baths and the massages, so get ready.” –Eddie

“My Mom's feet and then legs swelled so big I thought her skin would burst. It turns out it was her blood pressure medicine that was causing it. If your loved one has a wheat, corn, rice, or other food/additive intolerance or allergy, it could cause their feet/ankles to swell as well.” –Altersheim

“Ask their doctor about compression stockings. I don't mean the ones you pick up at the pharmacy, I mean the type they are measured for. You would be surprised how much they will help the swelling. I care for a dear friend who had both his ankles broken years ago. He recently had issues with his blood pressure and swelling of his legs. He was resistant, but then decided to try the stockings. To his surprise, they made a tremendous difference. Now he swears by them and tells others how they saved his life!” –SunflowerHouse

“For someone with swollen ankles, elevating the legs, staying active in between elevation, and perhaps adding a diuretic may help. The drug known as Norvasc (often used for hypertension) will also send fluid to the lower legs and ankles. It also helps to keep water away from the pericardium to prevent CHF. In cases like this, it's always important to see a cardiologist or at least an internist with these issues.” –N1K2R3

“I have had some swelling in my feet and ankles. My massage therapist recommended using some peppermint oil (just a few drops) mixed with some Vitamin E lotion or any kind of oil (sesame, olive, coconut, etc.) on my extremities. I then elevate my legs above my heart on pillows.” –Sarsi27

Foot Care in Long-Term Care Settings

“Check your loved one’s contract/rental agreement. It will outline what is covered and what is not. Generally, assisted living costs only cover room, food and non-medical help with activities of daily living (ADLs). They are not going to pay a resident’s doctor bills, dentist, hair salon, massage, or getting their toenails clipped (that is done by a podiatrist). My mom has a podiatrist and the charge is about $100 for getting her toenails cut. If the podiatrist has to make a ‘house call,’ that is going to cost more.” –malloryg8r

“If your loved one has insurance coverage, make sure their long-term care facility has their insurance information. That way they can provide it to any visiting doctors that come to their facility. My mom pays for her nails to be done at her assisted living facility, but her insurance covers the doctors. My mom has Medicare and Medigap.” –Trinity

“My mother is in an assisted living facility and the doctor comes to her. It is $65 to have her toenails clipped, but I've never received a bill. Her Medicare has been paying for it. This doctor is technically their ‘house podiatrist.’ He sees many people that reside there and comes every 6 weeks with one of his nurses.” –BrendaLynn

“If your loved one could use a foot massage, talk to the nursing staff. They may have a list of massage therapists or physical therapists that have been approved, meaning they showed proof of license and insurance and have a written agreement with the facility.” –pamstegma

Finding Shoes for a Loved One with Hard-to-Fit Feet

“My mom has one good foot and one bad. She sees a podiatrist every other month, and her insurance pays for it. She has a hammer toe on one foot, and I know it is from wearing shoes that are too small. As we get older and our muscles weaken, our feet get flatter, making them longer and wider. My Mom wore a size 8 narrow in shoes all her life and she was going to cram her feet into those 8 narrows no matter what. After much pain and many arguments, she's now wearing a 9 medium, but the damage is already done.” –KeepontryintM

I've gotten some nice shoes from my podiatrist, but his office only carries one line. What I've found to be more effective is to buy from an orthotics and prosthetics office. They have catalogs from at least a half dozen companies, and the Certified Prosthetist and Orthotist is an expert at fitting deformed feet as well as more ordinary needs. Yes, specialty shoes are expensive. My insurance paid just a small amount toward them, but once I hit Medicare, they are completely covered if you have diabetes. This is a great benefit, and it is based on the fact that foot problems in diabetics can be very costly and the prevention of wearing suitable shoes is well worth the investment. Diabetics should wear shoes all the time. My diabetes doctor insists that I wear water shoes from the locker to the swimming pool and even in the pool! No bare feet or open-toed sandals for diabetics!” –jeannegibbs

“My mother has extremely swollen feet and ankles from water retention and she also has a toe that crosses over the other, making it impossible to find shoes. I searched everywhere and found shoes she loves. Best of all, they are comfortable and they FIT!!! I found these shoes in the Dr. Leonard catalogue (it is a discount healthcare catalogue). The shoes are made by Dr. Scholl’s, which has always been a good brand. What so excited me after all the long searching was that they carry extra-wide widths. These are the best I could find and she loves them and says they are so comfortable. They also have a Velcro flap you can adjust so they fit properly.” –3pinkroses

“My mom is diabetic and Medicare pays for a custom-fitted pair of shoes every year that we get through her Podiatrist. There are many, many styles and some are really kind of cute. My mom got red patent leather Mary Janes one year! They were custom fitted with an impression made and measurements taken. When she had some issues with swelling, the doctor suggested another style. Even though my mom liked the Mary Janes, she went for it.” –babalon1919

“Your loved one should care more about the health of their feet than stylish shoes. Amputation of diabetic feet is a reality for many who incur and injury and infection. Any footwear that does not cause restriction in the blood flow to the foot is essential.” –ArmyRetired

“Occupational therapists (OTs) and physical therapists (PTs) from the Falls Prevention Team recommend good, firm-soled, grippy shoes that support the foot and fasten well with straps, buckles or laces (i.e. not slip-ons or slippers). They are also always going on about never wandering around the house barefoot. The best type for your loved one will depend on how, exactly, their health issues affect their balance and the ability to use their feet. If they are diabetic with peripheral neuropathy, for example, the feedback sensation they get from their feet will be impaired. You will also need to make sure that their shoes fit really well so that they don’t get any sore patches or blisters.” –Churchmouse

“Dr. Comfort is a good, sturdy shoe with Velcro fasteners. You can find them at the podiatrist's office or a medical supply store. They are pricy but worth it. Otherwise any good support shoe with easy fasteners should work. Just remember that function and comfort trump fashion.” –LearningCurve

“Both Land's End and L.L. Bean make Mary Janes with Velcro straps that loop through a D-ring which better accommodates swollen feet.” –Babalou

“If you are buying for a female who is not able to leave the house, buying men's sneakers often gives more room for those poor old misshapen toes. Good quality sneakers with good tread on the soles was the advice I received from my podiatrist. I also like a sole that curls up in the front so I don't catch the sole on obstructions. Make sure the shoe is big enough for their worst foot, and then adjust the other with inner soles or heel grips if it is too big. Needless to say, all the heels and slip-ons head straight to the thrift store. If your loved one is still able to attend dressy events, select a pair of well-fitting shoes that have a low, wide and stable heel. There’s no shame in them using their cane! It’s far better than arriving at a wedding with a broken nose!” –Veronica91

“Our shoe of choice for myself, my significant other, and my parents is SAS (San Antonio Shoemakers), and they are made in Texas. They carry all sizes from narrow/slim to wide. They’re oh-so comfortable, and the salespeople are excellent at fitting the shoes.” –freqflyer

“The best shoes ever I found for my mom were Dr. Scholl’s. They were Velcro, lightweight and came in black, white, gray and pink. I think I found them in Payless and Walmart. Mom was at inpatient physical therapy and the therapist asked me to take one off and pass it around so the others in the room could see the correct shoes they should be wearing. I didn't dare tell her where we bought them!” –Rosebush

Solutions for Sore and Painful Feet

“I'd recommend your loved one add walking to their routine and also consider turmeric, which helps with arthritic inflammation. I'd also get them to walk as much as possible, even though that seems counter-intuitive. Activity is good for arthritis, so if they are sitting a lot, their pain will be worse from stiffness and disuse.” –blannie

“Heel pain can be caused by diabetic neuropathy and other conditions that are quite painful, like plantar fasciitis, which I have had. This is treatable with anti-inflammatories and stretching exercises. Also, the fat pad on the heel can atrophy (shrink) in the elderly. In this case, a gel shoe insert can really help.” –golden23

“My 84-year-old mom is diabetic and takes Lyrica for pain and neuropathy. She claims it is a great help for her.” –Windyridge

“A change in diet can alleviate some arthritis pain. The change: stop eating everything from the nightshade family. This includes potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. There are others, but these are the most common. This helped alleviate my mother's pain.” –PCVS

“I suggest a new natural topical called Tendonex for plantar fasciitis. It contains a high concentration of alpha lipoic acid in a high bioavailability formulation.” –JerryB6768

“You can find stretching exercises to stretch out the fascia that runs from the heel up the center of the bottom of the foot to the toes. I also keep a small bottle of water frozen and roll it under my foot after I do the stretches. It has to be done daily. I also use Voltaren Gel, which is an anti-inflammatory by prescription. If they do the stretches twice a day for a few months, it should clear it up. Another possible source of heel pain is a bone spur, which would need an x-ray to diagnose and sometimes surgery is needed.” –anonymous9909

“My sister, a friend of mine and I have all had excellent results from changing our diet. My friend found that refined carbs triggered her inflammations. My sister and I found that dairy is our Kryptonite. Plus we increased our consumption of anti-inflammatory foods. What I did to figure out the dairy issue was go on a vegetarian diet, eliminating processed foods. After a week of eating really healthy, I noticed my joints felt noticeably better. So I kept at it. One day, I was at a friend's and ate various dairy-laden casseroles and four hours later, my joints hurt.” –Linda22

“My Dad read somewhere that a gluten-free diet can help with arthritis pain, so he gave it a try. Sure enough, he went somewhat gluten-free and it actually has helped him. His pain went way down. Now, I don't know if it was from eliminating some wheat from his diet, or if it was mind over matter, but whatever it is, it's working.” –freqflyer

“Voltaren Gel works well. It’s an NSAID topical by prescription. We have found that Nucynta ER 50 mg gives pain relief without adding mental confusion or dizziness that is often found with other drugs. Recently, the spray-on OTC pain relief has been good for my mom (91) with severe arthritis in knees, back, feet and neck.” –glasshalffull

“My sister has severe neuropathy due to diabetes. She takes an antidepressant that helps to block the pain. Also there are stockings and socks available. My sister has used the stockings with good success, however, they can be hot during the warmer weather. My sister's pain is not limited to her heels, it is random in her back, legs and feet. Many feel that tight stockings cut off circulation, but her doctor said they will not affect the main arteries in her legs because they are very deep in the leg.” –anonymous99039

“I went to a podiatrist with a foot issue years ago. Then some years back, I injured my back and ended up in physical therapy. The physical therapist did more for my feet that the podiatrist ever did. Depending on your loved one’s issues, you might want to check with their doctor and get a referral for physical therapy. They may have more to offer.” –anonymous95109

“Black cherry juice is very good for relieving gout. Buy it concentrated and mix one part juice to five parts water. It flushes uric acid out of the joints. Do not let your loved one eat too much beef, tomatoes, potatoes or eggplant, and encourage them to drink lots of water!” –ChristinaW

“Pronation can cause foot and leg pain. Orthotics might bring relief. You don't have to get the expensive custom-made ones. The over-the-counter ones (hard kind, not the gel) may work just fine for your loved one. I had pain for years, and orthotics stopped it immediately.” –judypanama

“I had peripheral neuropathy due to a B12 deficiency. The doctor said the myelin coating on nerves was not being supported. I passed the B12 serum test, but when that and several other odd symptoms kept up, the doctor ran a different test. It seems a person can have plenty of B12 in their system, but if the lining of their stomach doesn't produce enough intrinsic factor for the B12 to bind to, it can't be used by the body. One of the usual causes of decreased intrinsic factor is long term PPI (Proton Pump Inhibitor) use, like Prevacid, etc., but there are other reasons for that, too. I just have to have a B12 injection every now and then. If you loved one is having symptoms of neuropathy but they don’t have diabetes, it can't hurt to ask their doctor about including the test next time they’re having a blood draw.” –New2this

“My aunt used paraffin for the arthritis in her hands. She had a small device that heated the paraffin to a specific temperature, then I believe she put her hands in it. It sounds uncomfortable, but the wax was warm, not hot, and it really helped her. This could help arthritic feet, too.” –GardenArtist

“For gout, you want to dissolve the uric acid crystals. Their doctor can prescribe allopurinol, but the patient must also change their diet and drink lots of liquids. Vinegar helps dissolve the crystals as well, but sour cherry juice is much more palatable.” –pamstegma

“There are many positives to foot massage. The entire body is mapped out on the hands and feet in reflexology. It will not only help your loved one’s feet, but all of their vital organs as well. Make sure that there are no contraindications for massage first, though. For example, do they have an issue with blood clots? Depending on what type of pain they have and where it is in their feet, they may also have back issues.” –Picasso

“If a loved one has pain in the legs and feet, rule out other causes that might need medical attention, such as clots. Clots in the legs, if massaged, can move, causing a stroke or other bad event. If someone has these, they need medical attention for that, first. Next, evaluate their dietary intake. Once the nutritional or medical issues are addressed properly, THEN they might very well much enjoy a massage, pedicure/spa day.” –Chimonger

Remedies for Cold Feet

“They have these great little slippers in the ‘as seen on TV’ section at Walmart. They can be heated in the microwave and stay warm for a long time! Be super careful NOT to overheat though!!!! They are a great solution for cold feet. I plan to get my mom some for Christmas!” –Darcy123

“Raise the foot of your loved one’s bed, add lots of light blankets in layers and keep their room very warm. I have a small heater in my mom’s bedroom that goes on and off by itself and doesn't get hot to the touch. It's great. She stays warm, and we don't die of the heat!” –Reverseroles

“This is an extremely common condition in the elderly. It can be due to restricted blood flow or compressed nerves. It is annoying, but can also lead to falls. Cold feet are also a sign of poor circulation. Good wool socks can help, but often the numbness is more comfortable if the feet are actually cold. If this occurs mostly when your loved one wakes up, it may be at least partially due to the way they lie in bed. Experiment with different positions and supporting their limbs with pillows. Before getting out of bed, the patient should move their legs and feet to try and get the circulation flowing. Also talk to their doctor to rule out any underlying diseases.” –Veronica91

“Two easy suggestions for cold, numb feet: foot massages with lotion (like when you get a pedicure) to help circulation and basic foot exercises (rotation of ankles, pointing and flexing toes, etc.) to also help with circulation. Do these exercises together.” –Invisible

“I have trouble with my feet and legs in the mornings, and I know it is because the muscles and other things are too cool. What may help your loved one is to fold an extra blanket that will cover them from the knees down during the night. This will help keep their feet and legs warmer and make the circulation better.” –JessieBelle

Ashley Huntsberry-Lett

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Ashley is responsible for the planning and creation of AgingCare.com’s award-winning content. As a teenager, she assisted in caring for her step-father during his three-year battle with colon cancer. Now, through her work at AgingCare.com, she strives to inform and empower the caregivers who devote so much to helping and healing the ones they love.

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