Nearly 15% of Canadians over the age of 65 are living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
Dementia describes the process of cognitive decline as people age. This process means that the cerebral cortex (the area of the brain that is responsible for thoughts, memories, actions, and personality) degenerates. This degeneration can cause negative effects in a person’s daily life including difficulties with language, memory loss, and poor decision-making skills.
Alzheimer’s disease is one form of dementia, causing about 60-70% of cases. Symptoms often start with mild confusion or occasional forgetfulness. Over time, memory loss becomes more significant, but this process happens at a different rate depending on the individual.
Along with memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease often causes problems with thinking and reasoning abilities, making decisions, performing familiar tasks, and it can also cause changes in personality and behaviour.
As a result, some self-care behaviours can be ignored for extended periods of time. People struggling with Alzheimer’s disease may forget to participate in these activities, or they may experience decreased motivation in self-care. Without the proper care, some of the consequent physical changes can result in more serious medical problems.
Foot care is an example of the kind of self-care behaviour that can become neglected.
It is important to maintain the condition of your feet. Without proper care, feet with dry or cracked skin can increase the risk of falls, since this kind of skin is more likely to catch on uneven or carpeted surfaces. Feet with cracked or broken skin can also become infected, increasing the chance of other health complications. The risk of infection is also increased for people with diabetes, as this disease can damage the nerves and blood vessels in your feet.
While an established foot care routine may not be a significant task for most of us, older patients with Alzheimer’s disease can be severely affected by improper maintenance. They may forget to wash their skin, clip their toenails, or apply lotion. Rubbing the feet can also improve circulation and reduce tension, so it is important to rub or massage the feet regularly.
Without this type of self-care behaviour, people with Alzheimer’s disease are more susceptible to falls, which can create other health problems or limit their ability to be independent. In order to prevent this kind of result, it is important to ensure that foot maintenance is taken care of, whether by helping these patients to schedule these behaviours for themselves, having a loved one complete these activities for them, or bringing in help from a Certified Foot Care Nurse to keep an eye on their foot health.
What activities can help to ensure proper foot care?
Performing massages, keeping nails trimmed and cleaned, removing corns and calluses, and treating fungal infections are all essential services that will contribute to the overall health of patients with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. If you, or a loved one, are suffering with foot care, or any other difficulties, please reach out. There is support in your community.