At Platinum Podiatry we’re celebrating our first years of service to the elderly in nursing facilities and assisted living centers throughout Northern and Southern California.
Our mission could not be more important to us.
The reason: people are living so much longer than in generations past, and having healthy feet helps them retain their mobility and independence. And we think this helps seniors live longer, happier lives. According to the California State Department of Finance, the number of seniors in California is projected to increase by 96 per cent over the next two decades. Life-expectancy for Californians is now about 81 years, compared with 72 years in 1970. And, nationally, the fastest-growing segment of the American population is octogenarians, folks age 80, plus!
We offer essential foot health maintenance services to seniors in 35 facilities throughout California: toenail trimming, callus removal, and the treatment and removal of ingrown toenails. In accordance with our arrangement with these facilities, the seniors receive a podiatric checkup and needed services every 60 days. We serve between 100 and 200 patients, per facility, on this schedule of regular monitoring and care.
If you’re young and in excellent health, you may think of toenail trimming as a purely cosmetic service, like the salon pedicure you get every few weeks to keep your feet sandal-licious. But it’s more than cosmetic for many older people. Many older people have poor circulation, and this may lead to thickening of the toenail if the area around the nail is not receiving adequate blood-flow. Also, as we age, our cells simply turn over or replace themselves more slowly. We observe these changes in the skin, for example. Reduced sloughing or shedding of skin cells is a major cause in the signs of aging of the face; it’s why we lose our youthful glow (though exfoliation can help). A similar slow-down happens with the onychocytes, or cells of the toenail: as we get older, these cells may accumulate, rather than being quickly shed, and this results in a thickened, often yellowed nail.
In the examination process, our skilled team of five doctors, 10 assistants (and growing!) observes the condition of the person’s feet, spotting infections, for instance. By catching a potential problem such as an ulceration or unhealed cut early, we are able to help the patient avoid pain, injury, potential loss of a toe or other amputation, and even death, particularly if the individual lives with any form of diabetes. And, feeling secure in their footing when they stand, walk…and cha-cha !…helps the patient maintain balance and prevent falling, which often is a critical issue for seniors. We recommend that elderly people not attempt to cut their own toenails, since their eyesight and fine motor skills may be reduced, and this could result in an injury.
Caring for these seniors has become a true passion for our team. Depending upon the location, we drive or fly to the facility to check on our older folks. As always, education is an important part of our patient care. We share tips for healthy feet, encouraging the patients to examine their own feet if they can, and explaining the importance of self-monitoring changes in the feet such as numbness, tingling or neuralgia (nerve pain), since these conditions may signal a larger health issue.
Strong feet for a strong foundation at every age is an idea that’s central to our work. And we are so happy to report that with Platinum Podiatry, California’s seniors are standing taller and stronger than ever.