Whether you are helping your elderly relative with grooming and hygiene assistance or you depend on an elder care assistant, don’t make the common mistake of ignoring fingernail and toenail care. Many people think that nails don’t need much maintenance, but the truth is that in elderly people, nail care is really important.
Made of a strong protein called keratin, fingernails and toenails are ideally flexible and strong, with nice coloration and smooth surfaces. However, as the body gets older, there are some definite changes that take place in the nails. If you are not used to taking care of an elderly person’s nails, you could accidentally do some damage and cause them some discomfort. Spend some time learning about five common nail conditions that are usually found in elderly people.
It’s harder for the body to keep the nails from growing supple and strong, so you may notice that your elderly relative’s fingernails are thin and brittle. It’s easy for them to tear so be careful as you clip them. Toenails may do the opposite and thicken up, making it harder to trim and file. Using a good hand moisturizer can help retain some of the suppleness their nails really need.
With elderly people, it’s not uncommon to see yellowed or grayish nails. This can be from years of smoking or vitamin deficiency. Sometimes discoloration can mean a fungal infection, especially blackish batches on the toenails. Dark spots or streaks could signal melanoma, or simply bruising from smashing the finger. If there is a sudden and dramatic change in color, it’s a good idea to schedule a doctor’s appointment for your elderly relative just to check it out.
Healthy adult nails are smooth and shiny, but an elderly person’s nails may not look quite this way. It’s not unusual for elderly people to develop vertical ridges, which is a normal development and nothing to worry about. However, horizontal ridges from side to side can signal a health problem somewhere else in the body. Pitting and dimples in the nails can also be a sign of another health condition, such as psoriasis.
When seniors have normal, crescent-shaped nails, it’s easy to avoid problems like tearing, breaking and even ingrown nails. However, some health issues cause the nails to overly curve or else flatten out. Concave nails can signal things like iron deficiency.
The best way to spot problems with an elderly relative’s nails is to keep them as healthy as possible. This means that you and the elder care assistant should keep them trimmed with sharp clippers, gently file any rough edges and apply a nail strengthening polish once in a while. Moisturizer keeps the nails and cuticles supple as well. Pay attention to any significant changes and contact the doctor if you notice anything out of the ordinary that is beyond normal nail conditions for your elderly relative.
Are you or a loved-one considering hiring elder care in Centreville, VA? Please call the caring staff at Medical Professionals On Call today.
Medical Professionals On Call has such a caring, professional staff who are available to step in with whatever level of care necessary for loved ones and to relieve you of that stress.