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For family caregivers, some people’s foot care needs are as simple as clipping their toenails while others may have more complex issues that require professional medical attention.

When we last spoke to Ian, a foot care nurse with Saint Elizabeth, the company that powers Elizz, he told us about the importance of foot care nurses and why family caregivers and care recipients should consider using their foot care services.

In this Elizz quiz, we’re testing your knowledge about some of the common foot care issues that Ian’s clients face. Before we start asking you questions about common foot ailments, we want to learn what family caregivers and care recipients think about foot care services. At the end of the quiz, we’re going to ask the first question again to see if your opinion changed or stayed the same after learning about the common foot care issues that Ian regularly treats.

Ready? Let’s begin!

1. What do you think about getting foot care services from a certified foot care nurse?

Answer: This is your opinion so there are no right or wrong answers. We just want to know what you think!

2. What is an ingrown toenail?

Answer: b) A toenail that is growing into the skin instead of over it.

According to HealthLink BC, nails that are cut “too short or rounded at the edge of the nail can cause it to grow into the skin.” Wearing shoes or socks that are too tight may press into the nail, causing the nail to grow into the skin. Injuries to the toe, such as stubbing it or repeated activity like kicking a soccer ball, can also cause ingrown toenails. Because ingrown nails can be painful and cause infection, HealthLink BC recommends seeking treatment from a health care professional, especially if you see signs of infection. You may be given antibiotics or recommended for minor surgery depending on your situation.

3. How are thickened toenails trimmed and treated?

Answer: a) By using a power tool with a small sanding bit.

Were you surprised by the answer? Ian says that trimming thickened toenails with regular toenail clippers will twist the nail, which is painful for the client and can potentially cause it to break or grow inward. Ian is a certified foot care nurse and has been trained on how to use a small power tool to treat thickened toenails. We don’t recommend that family caregivers try using power tools to treat your own feet or those of the person in your care!

4. What are involuted toenails?

Answer: c) Toenails that curl downward into the skin as they grow.

According to Ian, involuted toenails are a very common problem and can make walking very difficult and painful. Unfortunately, this is not a preventable problem as it comes from the way the person’s nails are growing, not from the way they were cut. Involuted toenails are treated by cutting down the sides of the nail with a narrow cutting plier and then filing down what’s left with a Black’s file. This process is sometimes painful but once done, the patient feels immediate relief and will be able to walk comfortably again. Family caregivers and care recipients are not advised to treat involuted toenails on their own.

5. What are some of the reasons that Ian’s senior patients have for requiring professional foot care services?

Answer: e) All of the above

Certified foot care nurses like Ian know that someone with diabetes may have nerve damage in their feet, that kidney dialysis treatment puts patients at risk for foot ulcers, and that it’s hard to stop a cut from bleeding when someone is taking blood thinning medication. They also know that seniors with cognitive issues like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia may not even realize that their feet have been unhealthy for months, and that some seniors have physical disabilities that prevent them from bending over or reaching their feet to do simple tasks like trimming their toenails. Foot care nurses have the right tools for the job and are trained to handle foot ailments that are complicated by additional health care needs.

You may be interested in our Elizz article, Foot care tips for people with diabetes.

6. How can foot care nurses help someone in need of foot care?

Answer: e) All of the above.

These are just some of the ways that a qualified foot care nurse can help you or the person in your care.

7. What advice does Ian have for family caregivers who are taking care of someone with foot problems?

Answer: b) Examine between their toes for signs of injuries or infection.

A daily visual inspection of the person’s feet is necessary, especially for people who are undergoing chemotherapy or have diabetes and may experience temporary or permanent tingling and/or loss of sensation in the feet as a result. “For these people,” Ian says, “A daily inspection of the feet is necessary to check for injuries that cannot be felt, like burns, blisters, pressure sores, cut, scrapes, broken nails, insect bites, and bruises.” If you see any signs of injury or infection, don’t let the problem(s) slide. Seek advice from a health care professional such as a certified foot care nurse immediately to have the issue treated safely.

It’s important to note that soaking the feet, using a foot file/razor on dry skin, and not wearing shoes or socks are unsafe foot care practices as they can cause new injuries or make existing injuries worse.

8. Think back to your first answer. Now that you know about some of the common foot care issues that Ian sees during his day, what do you think about getting foot care services from a certified foot care nurse?

Answer: Any of the above! Did your opinion about foot care services change as you learned more about common foot care issues that Ian’s clients face?

You scored n out of n

Caring for your feet or, if you are a family caregiver, caring for someone else’s feet can be challenging if you don’t have the proper training or equipment to do it. In fact, you may end up doing more harm than good if you try to treat any of the foot care issues mentioned in this quiz yourself.

If you or the person in your care have complex medical issues or require extensive foot care services, consider calling Elizz to take care of your foot care needs. If you would like to learn more about Elizz foot care services, please visit our website or call us at 1-855-275-3549 to speak to a Care Solutions Specialist.

At Elizz, we provide caregiver support for you and home care services for those who depend on you. Elizz is a Canadian company powered by Saint Elizabeth, a national not-for-profit health care organization that has been caring for Canadians since 1908.

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