Taking Care of Your Loved One’s Feet This Winter

Posted by Kia Crawford on December 1st, 2016 in Education | No Comments

happy-smiling-asian-senior-woman-outside-in-the-snow-garden-at-yongpyong-ski-resortEven in Georgia, the winter can bring freezing temperatures and even snow (though it may not fall until January). It is a time of enjoying family around the fireplace and in front of the Christmas tree. Even if there’s not snow on the ground, the dry coldness can be terrible for the feet. If it does snow or other precipitation has fallen, the dampness can also be uncomfortable, if not dangerous. This is especially true for seniors.

Beyond just the state of the feet themselves, it’s also important to consider the dangers of slick sidewalks. A simple stroll could quickly result in a twisted ankle or other, more serious injuries. Avoiding such injuries and taking care of the feet should be a top priority for both you and your senior loved one this winter season.

Keeping Warm in the Cold

When our bodies are exposed to cold weather, they naturally redirect blood flow away from from the fingers and toes in order to keep vital organs warm. As such, it is important to wear proper footwear outdoors. Thick socks and boots can insulate your feet from the cold to keep your toes warm. Seniors are especially susceptible to frostbite and other cold-related dangers, since their bodies aren’t as able to regulate blood flow. As such, it is imperative they have proper footwear before going outdoors this winter.

If your loved one’s feet do get cold and damp, do not expose them to high heat immediately. Doing so can cause damage to skin and nerves. Instead, use warm temperatures. For instance, a large bowl of warm (not hot) water to slowly acclimate the feet back to normal temperature. Or, you could use a warm towel to do the same thing, which adds the benefit of coziness to the process.

Dealing with Dry, Cracked Feet

There are a few issues that tend to arise for people, especially seniors, when the winter brings its dry air. For instance, some people are more prone to nosebleeds, since the nasal cavity dries out and cracks. The same goes for feet. Often, as skin gets dry, it cracks in the same way a dry lake bed might. When this happens to feet, it can be especially painful, as they carry our weight every day when we walk.

Luckily, there are many ways this can be treated. One easy way is to use moisturizing lotion at least once a day. For more natural remedies, soaking your feet in a cup of honey mixed with a gallon of warm water can bring vital nutrients back to the skin while also softening it. Honey has natural enzymes that heal the skin as well, and soaking in warm water boosts circulation. You can also slather on petroleum jelly to lock in moisture and promote healing. In fact, watching oil drillers apply petroleum jelly to cuts was how it was first discovered!

Other Injuries to Look Out For

Due to decreased bone density, seniors are more likely to suffer from serious injuries if they slip and fall. The good news is, there are ways these can be prevented. If your loved one is going on a walk by themselves, make sure they have sturdy, slip-resistant boots on. They should avoid carrying anything, as it can affect balance. Better yet, join them on their walk so they can rely on you for support, and you can be there to help them if they start to slip.

Winter is a beautiful time of year, but it can also be a dangerous one. Being proactive can prevent many injuries and other issues. One way to be proactive is to determine whether or not your loved one can safely live on their own anymore with our handy quiz. If not, Dogwood Forest has many assisted living communities in and around Atlanta. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your loved one live their Golden Years in a safe, positive environment.