How Does Diabetes Affect Feet?

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There are many complications associated with diabetes, and one of them is foot problems. Over time, diabetes can cause serious problems due to nerve damage and reduced circulation. These complications can even lead to the loss of toes, feet, and legs. Understanding how diabetes affects the feet of older adults can help avoid serious complications.

Common Foot-Related Complications

There are many foot problems that diabetics and their caregivers need to watch for. Some of them are:

  • Regular Foot Issues: The common foot ailments that non-diabetics suffer can become major problems for those with diabetes. Getting a case of athlete’s foot or dry, cracked heals can lead to serious infections, which can result in amputation.
  • Neuropathy: Diabetes can cause nerve damage that reduces a person’s ability to feel pain, cold, or heat. As a result, a diabetic can get a foot injury without even knowing it. Neuropathy can also cause the shape of feet or toes to change, which may require special shoes.
  • Decreased Circulation: Reduced blood flow decreases the ability of feet to heal from infections.
  • Ulcers: People with diabetes often get ulcers on the balls of their feet or on the big toe. They may also get them on the sides of their feet, which is usually caused by ill-fitting shoes.
  • Changes in Skin: The nerves in the feet that control moisture and oil can become damaged, leading to dry, cracked feet.
  • Calluses: Diabetics are more prone to calluses. They can become thick quickly, requiring special shoes or inserts. They can also become ulcers.

How Elder Care Can Help

The care of a diabetic senior’s feet requires some extra attention and time. An elder care provider can help perform the tasks associated with foot care for diabetics. Elder care providers can help with the following foot care steps:

  • Daily Foot Check: Because diabetics can’t feel their feet as well as others, it’s important to inspect them every day for injuries or other problems. An elder care provider can look over the senior’s feet as they help them get dressed in the morning or prepare for bed at night.
  • Foot Washing: Feet should be washed every day to keep them as germ-free as possible. An elder care provider can prepare a basin of warm, soapy water to thoroughly wash feet. Afterward, they can thoroughly dry the senior’s feet and apply powder to prevent moisture-related infections.
  • Callus Care: Sometimes doctors recommend that diabetics use a pumice stone to smooth away calluses. However, reaching their feet can be hard for older adults. An elder care provider can do the task for them.
  • Trimming Toenails: An elder care provider can help clip the toenails of a senior diabetic, being careful to cut them straight across without cutting the corners of the nails.

Proper footcare is essential to the health of older adults with diabetes. Hiring an elder care provider can help lighten the load of family caregivers by performing foot-related tasks.


If you or an aging loved one are considering elder care in Dulles, VA, please contact the caring staff at Assisting Hands today. (703) 982-0050.