Podiatry services can help seniors aging in place stay healthy and safe by providing necessary treatments and advice on properly caring for the feet.
As people age, they experience changes in their feet and ankles, making it difficult or dangerous to continue living independently.
In addition to preventing problems, podiatry services can also treat existing issues, improving the quality of life for seniors.
If you are a caregiver for an elderly loved one, it is important to be familiar with the benefits of podiatry so you can ensure they get the treatment they need.
Today, we will be speaking with Dr. Gemma English, a board-certified podiatric surgeon that helps the senior population take care of their feet.
We will be discussing how podiatrists make sure seniors are healthy, why they need regular visits to the podiatrist, and more.
Let's get it started!
Thank you for having me.
My name is Dr. Gemma English. I'm a podiatrist at Chateau Foot and Ankle Center.
As podiatrists, we deal with nail care, callus care, and arthritic and balance issues. We also take care of seniors who have muscle issues, nerve issues, and those who can no longer reach their feet.
When it comes to the senior population, we help ensure they have good foot health.
Regular visits even before problems arise are important. Preventing or early identification of issue makes a difference.
We check on bed sores for feet and legs. We also make sure that their feet don't have ulcers or calluses.
Usually, we take care of 60 to 65 patients in a day. Then, after that, we perform surgeries and other procedures.
Most of the time, geriatric patients deal with arthritis, so we get a lot of questions about that. We also get questions about balance problems in seniors.
On top of our treatments, we also refer these patients to specialists, especially if they have balance problems.
Our goal is to make sure our patients have healthy feet to sustain good balance and avoid potential accidents.
We treat the feet to the same extent as we would treat surgical procedures.
All of our tools are sanitized to ensure we are not spreading bacteria and fungus to our patients.
Most of the time, our patients have vascular issues. They don't have enough blood supply going to their legs and feet. As a result, their nerves aren't functioning as they should.
So when they come to us, we don't just provide nail care. We perform a whole physical exam to help identify their neurovascular status.
We need to check for stability and ensure that everything has been functioning properly since our last visit. Our goal is to avoid issues like sores or any injuries to the feet.
If we find other issues, we refer them to other specialists like dermatologists. We need to make sure that our patients get the right care for overall health.
As we grow older, we encounter different problems affecting our balance.
This is where podiatry comes in.
Because we lose muscle mass and flexibility, it can be difficult for us to bend and reach our feet. This also affects blood flow and eventually the nerve endings in our feet.
Most of the patients we see are not even conscious of taking care of their feet.
We often have this idea that only diabetics should take foot care seriously. But you won't believe the things we actually had to remove from feet, especially for those aging in place.
One of the worst things you can do inside your house is walking barefoot.
Most of our patients, especially diabetics, are no longer aware of what they accidentally stepped on.
Learn more about diabetes management here.
And since they don't get to inspect their feet that often, it usually leads to infections and sores.
As caregivers, it's vital to do daily checks on the elderly, especially in between the toes and soles of the feet.
We also advise our patients on how to properly stretch their feet. Doing so reduces muscle tension and releases knots before it gets painful.
My top advice is for the elders to wear the right footwear even at home.
As I've said, walking around barefoot can be more dangerous for them, especially if they can't feel much of their feet.
We've removed foreign objects like insulin needles, broken glass, and toothpicks. And most of the time, seniors are not aware until the infection goes bad.
It would be best to get professionally fitted shoes by qualified personnel.
For diabetics, it's best to be in contact with an orthotist to make sure you have the right shoe fit. This will help ensure your feet have the right support and take care of their balance and stability issues.
When it comes to shoe brands, we recommend Brooks and New Balance. They have the widest size options and great arch support.
Read more about choosing the best shoes for seniors here.
Dr. Gemma English grew up in Athens, Georgia, and attended the University of Georgia. In Cleveland, Ohio, she went to podiatry school and completed her residency training at St. Vincent's Healthcare in Jacksonville, Florida.
Dr. English is a board-certified podiatric surgeon passionate about helping her patients live healthy, active lifestyles.
She has a passion for learning and is always looking for opportunities to help her give the next level of care to all of her patients.
She is a proud member of APMA and GPMA, believing that networking with other podiatrists helps make the best patient outcomes. When she isn't in the clinic or in the operating room, she enjoys spending time outdoors or traveling with her husband, 2 children, and a 7-month-old bernedoodle.
She currently practices podiatry in Braselton, Georgia, with her longtime friend Dr. Courtney Glenn. They opened a practice together in 2015 (Chateau Foot and Ankle) and happily serve all Northeast Georgia community members.
Get in touch with Dr. English!
That's all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!