As people get older, paying attention to good health and hygiene becomes even more important. Simple routine tasks, like cutting your fingernails and toenails, can become difficult or even impossible if you have impaired vision or a problem with mobility. As we age, hormonal changes can cause toenails to grow more slowly and get thicker and more brittle. They become more difficult to cut and more prone to fungal infections.
If you have diabetes, it is even more important for you to care for feet and toenails meticulously. Toes and feet are very susceptible to diabetic nerve damage making them more vulnerable to injuries. It is these small injuries that can be difficult to detect until it is too late and the possibility of developing gangrene increases. Even an ingrown toenail can cause a serious infection that could lead to amputation.
Many seniors have common foot problems because they can no longer take care of their feet themselves. That is why it is really important to have regular checkups and discuss any concerns with your doctor. Find out about routine foot care like nail clipping, and whether your Medicare benefits will help cover your care.
Why Proper Toenail Trimming is Important
If your toenails are not taken care of, they may cause injury by scratching or puncturing your skin, breaking off and exposing delicate skin under the nail, or by tearing off because of snagging on clothing or other materials.
While your health care provider trims your nails, he or she can check your nails and toes for signs of fungus, injuries, ingrown nails, and hangnails. It is important to treat these conditions as soon as possible before they become serious, especially if you are diabetic.
Proper toenail care is often difficult for seniors because of limited eyesight, limited flexibility, or arthritis in hands and legs. If you are able to trim your own toenails, following these procedures may make it easier and safer:
• Soak your feet before trimming your toenails or cut them after taking a bath or
• Keep all your trimming tools clean by washing or wiping them with rubbing alcohol.
• Make sure your hands and feet are clean before and after trimming.
• Cut your toenails straight across, do not cut into the curve around the end of the nail.
• Avoid cutting the skin and do not cut calluses.
Do Medicare Benefits Cover Nail Trimming?
If you are covered by Original Medicare Part B (medical insurance) or have a Medicare Advantage (Part C) policy, you may have coverage for nail trimming and other types of foot care.
While Medicare Part B insurance does not generally cover routine foot care services which may include toenail clipping or corn and callus removal, it does cover certain foot treatments that are medically necessary under Medicare’s guidelines.
Your Medicare Part B insurance covers toenail clipping if your health care provider certifies that it would be harmful to your health if it is not done by a podiatrist or other medical professional.
Costs of Nail Trimming
Depending on the condition of your feet and whether you are diabetic, you may be able to have your toenails trimmed by a professional pedicurist. For a special treatment that includes exfoliation, nail and cuticle trimming, fungus prevention, and maybe even a foot massage, the average cost across the country is about $35.00 to $40.00. If you choose to visit a nail salon, be sure that it is a reputable one, your pedicurist is experienced, and that the equipment they use is sterilized.
If you have diabetes or other health issues, it is safest to visit a podiatrist for your routine foot care. The first time you visit a podiatrist, you may pay a consultation fee which can run between $75.00 and $400.00. The podiatrist you visit, the area where you live, and the services you require make a difference in the price you pay out-of-pocket.
Taking proper care of toenails and the feet in general is imperative to good health at every age, but especially in the later years. What may start as a small problem can become a painful and dangerous condition if it is not cared for immediately.