By Joy Lautenslager, RN, Valley VNA Foot Care Nurse

Wiggle your toes. People don’t really think about their feet until they can’t reach them. Valley VNA is the longest consistently running foot care clinic provider in the region. Our clinics were established here in Neenah more than 20 years ago, and we’ve grown to offer them at a myriad of sites throughout the VNA service area. In fact, last year we provided nearly 6,400 soothing 20-minute sessions at 507 scheduled clinics throughout the region.

A typical Valley VNA foot care appointment includes a foot soak, nail trim, filing, foot massage, and treatment of minor corns or callouses. Most of my clients return every other month for the healthy, soothing, and social aspects of the traveling VNA foot care caravan. If we discover suspicious moles, cellulitis, or fungal infections in the course of a person’s foot care, we make referrals to podiatrists or suggest a follow-up with his or her doctor.

Experts recommend that seniors pay special attention to their feet because:

1. Feet lose cushioning as they age, and the skin and nails can grow dry and brittle. Many seniors have poor circulation, and this can slow the healing of foot sores.

2. Problems with feet can be the first sign of more serious medical conditions, particularly among older adults. Health problems, such as arthritis, diabetes, nerve issues, and circulatory disorders, may first be manifested in the feet. That is why it is important to pay attention to your feet and seek medical attention as soon as you notice a problem.

3. If left untreated, small cuts and sore spots on the feet can lead to more serious infections. Foot ulcers (open wounds on the feet) are common among senior citizens who fail to notice minor foot injuries early on. Reduced nervous sensation and circulation in the feet mean that the feet need to be inspected visually.

4. Failure to trim nails properly can lead to ingrown toenails and infections.

Each Valley VNA foot care nurse has her own style. (We used to have a singing nurse!) I have my own little bag of tricks, including a bit of essential oil, soft music, and a sweet treat for each of my clients. I come to know these people. We talk, and I hear life stories, or what’s weighing on their hearts. The best part of my job? When someone gets up and says, “That feels so good, I’m going dancing!”

There is a $23 fee per foot care session. Only certain types of foot care are covered by Medicare, and even then, the co-pay is higher than our fee. We see people who’ve been referred by their doctors, podiatrists, or have heard about us through friends or family.

You need not be a senior to schedule a foot care session. Anyone who has difficulty caring for his or her feet is welcome. To reserve your spot, view the schedule and call Valley VNA at (920) 727-5555.