Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speaks!

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman
2 min readJan 13, 2023

Topic: Toenail Care is a part of being a Caregiver!

While a pedicure may seem like a great way to care for your toenails, it may not be the best plan for our elderly with many health problems, mobility problems, and chronic diseases. Indeed, taking care of the toenails is an important part of healthy feet. In our elderly, family members become the pedicure kings and queens, especially if our loved ones cannot get out and about. Caregiver assistance is required. It does not have to be problematic in the care of the toenails, but without diligence, many unwarranted problems can occur. When the feet, and toenails, specifically are not managed, they can develop into complications, like, pain due to ingrown toenails, fungus, or infection. The feet, along with the toenails should be assessed daily. You must have a baseline so that when problems develop, they are caught early and addressed.

Our aging loved ones often do not have the ability to manage their own toenails. Many problems prevent them from their own care. For example, arthritis and joint deformities, visual limitations, cognitive decline, tremors, and involuntary movements from illnesses like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. These are just a few of the ailments that make it unsafe to care for the toenails. Caregivers, you are tasked with the care of your loved one’s feet. Do not skip this important step in the caregiving experience. After washing and drying the feet, inspect, inspect, and inspect some more. Do not be overwhelmed by the care of toenails. If you are hesitant, seek professional direction from the healthcare practitioner. This is especially important if your loved one has diabetes, one chronic disease that can impact feet and nail care.

What To Look for When Inspecting the Toenails?

The hidden dangers may include localized nail abnormalities similar to redness, swelling, blisters, sores, open cuts around the nail, nail lifting from the toes, discolorations, overgrown toenails piercing the skin, nail splitting, and dark-colored nailbeds. Dark skin next to your nail could signal a more serious problem (like cancer) and should be addressed immediately. Greenish black color is a sign of bacteria and infection and required medical attention. Curved toenails are another name for ingrown toenails and can be very painful. If too painful, seek medication attention for more than one reason. Curving could be a sign of disease from the lungs, heart, or liver. As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, toenail care is vital in the caregiver space. I will always cherish the times I was able to care for my mother’s feet. She loved red toenail polish. I never polished them before I inspected, examined, explored, and shared the love of lotion. Be safe! Be well!

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Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman

Dr. Hickman is the author of From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor and The Black Book of Important for Caregivers.