Addressing Foot Problems in Dementia Patients

Dementia is a challenging condition that affects memory, cognition, and daily life. One often overlooked aspect of dementia care is the impact it has on a person’s feet. In this blog post, we’ll explore the common foot problems faced by dementia patients, the reasons behind these issues, practical solutions, the right professionals to consult, and simple home remedies to provide comfort.

What Does the Research Say?

In this study, researchers from the Universidade da Coruña looked into how Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects the health of older people’s feet. They were curious about whether folks with AD might end up wearing the wrong shoes as they get older. They gathered 73 older individuals with probable, mild to moderate AD, aged 65–95 years, from a center that’s really good at dealing with AD.

A specially trained doctor checked out their overall health and the condition of their feet. They even used a fancy device called a calibrated Brannock to measure the length and width of their feet and the shoes they were wearing. Here’s the scoop: a whopping 89.04% of the participants had some kind of foot problem. That’s quite a bunch!

But here’s the kicker – only about 30.14% of them were wearing shoes that actually fit right in terms of width and size for their feet. That means a whopping 69.86% of these folks were walking around in shoes that were either too long or too narrow. Imagine trying to walk a mile in shoes that don’t quite fit – it’s not a pleasant thought!

So, the study basically found that many people with AD have issues with their feet, and a big part of the problem is that they often wear the wrong shoes. It’s like trying to squeeze into a shirt that’s two sizes too small or wearing pants that keep tripping you up because they’re too long. Not fun, right? 

The researchers figured out that there’s a clear link between the size of the shoes and the shape of the foot, and when they don’t match up, it can lead to some pretty uncomfortable foot situations for people with AD.

Types of Foot Problems

Dementia patients often encounter various foot problems that can hinder their mobility and overall well-being.

Swelling and Edema:

Description: Swelling occurs when fluid builds up, leading to puffiness, especially around the ankles and feet.

Causes: Reduced mobility and poor circulation are common culprits.

Solutions: Elevating the feet and encouraging gentle movement can alleviate swelling.

Ulcers and Sores:

Description: Open wounds or sores on the feet, which can be slow to heal.

Causes: Limited sensation, improper footwear, and decreased blood flow contribute to ulcers.

Solutions: Regular foot inspections, keeping feet clean, and choosing comfortable shoes are crucial.

Ingrown Toenails:

Description: Toenails growing into the skin, causing pain and potential infections.

Causes: Difficulty in proper foot care and wearing tight shoes.

Solutions: Regular trimming of toenails, avoiding tight shoes, and seeking professional help for toenail care.

Balance and Gait Issues:

Description: Difficulty in maintaining balance and an unsteady walking pattern.

Causes: Cognitive decline affecting coordination and muscle weakness.

Solutions: Supportive footwear, handrails, and regular gentle exercises can enhance stability.

Causes of Foot Problems in Dementia Patients

Understanding the root causes helps in addressing foot problems effectively.

Reduced Sensation:

Explanation: Dementia can diminish a person’s ability to feel pain or discomfort, making it challenging to notice foot issues.

Impact: Patients may not be aware of injuries, leading to delayed care and complications.

Limited Mobility:

Explanation: Dementia often results in decreased physical activity and mobility.

Impact: Reduced movement affects blood circulation, contributing to swelling and other foot problems.

Poor Foot Care:

Explanation: Memory loss and cognitive decline can lead to neglect of basic foot care routines.

Impact: Lack of attention to hygiene and toenail maintenance increases the risk of infections and sores.

Inappropriate Footwear:

Explanation: Choosing uncomfortable or ill-fitting shoes can exacerbate foot problems.

Impact: Tight shoes can lead to ingrown toenails, ulcers, and worsen balance issues.

Practical Solutions for Foot Problems

Addressing foot problems in dementia patients requires practical and straightforward solutions.

Regular Foot Inspections:

Advice: Caregivers should inspect the patient’s feet regularly for signs of swelling, sores, or ingrown toenails.

Importance: Early detection enables timely intervention and prevents complications.

Comfortable Footwear:

Advice: Opt for shoes that are comfortable, provide proper support, and have a non-slip sole.

Importance: Well-fitted shoes reduce the risk of injuries and improve overall mobility.

Gentle Exercises:

Advice: Encourage simple exercises like ankle rotations and toe stretches.

Importance: Regular, gentle movements improve blood circulation and maintain muscle strength.

Elevating Feet:

Advice: When sitting, elevate the feet slightly to reduce swelling.

Importance: Elevating the feet aids in fluid drainage and alleviates discomfort.

Professionals to Consult

Seeking the right professionals ensures comprehensive care for foot issues in dementia patients.


Role: Specialized in foot care, a podiatrist can address specific issues like ingrown toenails, ulcers, and recommend suitable footwear.

Orthopedic Specialist:

Role: Consult an orthopedic specialist for addressing balance and gait issues.

Importance: They can recommend exercises and interventions to improve mobility.

Primary Care Physician:

Role: The primary care physician can coordinate overall care, addressing general health concerns impacting foot problems.

Importance: They provide a holistic approach to healthcare for dementia patients.

Home Remedies for Foot Comfort

Simple remedies at home can contribute to the well-being of dementia patients’ feet.

Warm Water Soaks:

Procedure: Soaking feet in warm water with a mild soap.

Benefits: Helps in cleaning and relaxing the feet, promoting circulation.


Procedure: Regularly applying a gentle moisturizer to keep the skin on the feet hydrated.

Benefits: Prevents dryness and reduces the risk of cracks and sores.

Proper Toenail Care:

Procedure: Trim toenails straight across to avoid ingrown toenails.

Benefits: Reduces the risk of infections and discomfort.


Procedure: Gentle massage of the feet using a non-irritating lotion.

Benefits: Enhances circulation and provides a soothing effect.


Caring for the feet of dementia patients is a crucial aspect of overall well-being. By understanding the types and causes of foot problems, implementing practical solutions, consulting the right professionals, and incorporating simple home remedies, caregivers can contribute significantly to the comfort and mobility of individuals facing the challenges of dementia. Regular attention to foot health not only prevents complications but also ensures a better quality of life for those navigating the complexities of this condition.

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