Homecare worker treating elderly feet

As we get older, we become more susceptible to a variety of health problems. Some of these health problems can result in a range of undesirable effects, and this means that proper care and attention is necessary to try to control these effects.

Two conditions that can cause issues and health risks include diabetes and chronic venous leg disease. Both conditions can lead to several effects that will require proper care and treatment, often arranged and attended to by home caregivers.

This includes foot ulcers, which can be caused by diabetes. It also includes skin ulcers and additional skin problems caused by chronic venous leg disease.

 

The Effects and Treatment of Chronic Venous Leg Disease

Chronic venous leg disease is a relatively common problem in older people. This is a condition that affects the veins in the legs, causing issues with blood flow. The condition results in the blood flow going into reverse, which causes blood pooling in the legs. This can then lead to aches, prominent veins, swelling, skin rashes and discoloration, and ulcers.

Some of these symptoms are severe and could be dangerous, which is why chronic venous disease needs to be properly treated. It is important that a medical professional first confirms the presence of this disease so that a suitable treatment plan can be followed. This diagnosis can be made through a visual check by the doctor or through tests, such as ultrasound scans.

Once a diagnosis has been made, treatment can be arranged accordingly. For chronic venous leg disease, the treatment often involves a combination of the following:

  • Elevating the legs: Keeping the legs elevated for around 30 minutes a few times each day can help. This can encourage pooled blood from the legs to take its proper course, which will help to bring down swelling. It will also contribute to improving the flow of blood, which speeds up the healing of ulcers.
  • Exercise: Exercise is another important method of improving blood flow, so this may also be part of the treatment plan. Gentle foot and ankle exercises are recommended to improve the flow of blood. In addition, simple walking may prove very effective and can reduce the risk of developing leg ulcers.
  • Compression treatment: Depending on the severity of the condition, compression treatment may be used in one of many forms. This includes the use of compression stockings, compression pumps and compression bandages. Special dressings may also be used before compression bandages are applied.
  • Oral and topical medication: The doctor may prescribe oral or topical medication, based on the symptoms that are being experienced. This may include aspirin to speed up the healing of ulcers, antibiotics if an infection has set in or medicated creams to deal with rashes and dermatitis.

Female nurse examining senior patient feet

The exact treatment plan required for an elder with chronic venous leg disease will be determined by a medical professional once an assessment has been carried out.

 

The Effects and Treatment of Diabetic Foot Ulcers

Many people who suffer from diabetes develop foot ulcers, where the skin in a part of the foot breaks down and exposes the tissue underneath. This is due to several reasons, including reduced sensation of the skin in that area. The narrowing of blood vessels that go to the feet also increases the risk of foot ulcers in those with diabetes.

Foot ulcers can cause discomfort and a variety of additional problems for diabetes sufferers. One of the key issues is that they become prone to infection. They can also take far longer to heal with someone who has diabetes, due to poor circulation.

One very severe problem that can arise is the death of tissue, also known as gangrene. This could ultimately lead to amputation.

Therefore, it is vital that diabetic foot ulcers are treated promptly if and when they develop. It is possible to reduce the risk of developing these ulcers. This is done through regular attendance at diabetic reviews or clinics, where a full check is carried out. Any issues relating to poor circulation and other problems are addressed and treated, which can reduce the risk of foot ulcers developing.

Diabetic foot diagram

If a foot ulcer does develop, it is important to get it checked as soon as possible by a doctor. Treatment will then be organized and generally includes:

  • The application of protective dressing on the ulcer to prevent infection
  • Regular examination, cleaning and re-dressing of the ulcer by a nurse
  • Possible removal of hard skin around the area if it is preventing healing
  • The possibility of a special shoe or cast being issued to keep pressure off the ulcer
  • A prescription for antibiotics if an infection occurs
  • A procedure to drain and clean the ulcer if the infection becomes severe

Narrow arteries in the legs can severely restrict blood flow to the feet in some diabetic patients. If this is the case, medics may recommend an operation to widen the arteries, such as an outpatient stent procedure.

 

Conclusion

Both conditions, which can cause problems for seniors, require prompt medical attention. This will help to ensure they do not get any worse, and that proper treatment is arranged as quickly as possible.

If you are a caregiver to a senior with these conditions and symptoms, you will need to familiarize yourself with the treatment plan that is put into place. This will enable you to make sure the plan is being followed, which in turn can help to alleviate the problem and reduce the risks.

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