Footcare for a non-bendy person.
October 26, 2008 4:07 PM   Subscribe

A dear friend of mine is morbidly obese. He has a variety of medical issues which are mostly being addressed. He has several related issues that are not - mostly hygiene related. Help me help him. (possible squick inside).

He has acute lymphoedema (swelling due to pooling fluid) in his lower legs and is constantly suffering from cellucitis (infection of the sub-dermis). However, because he cannot bend over (he can touch his knees...just) he cannot apply creams to the affected areas or handle dressings and wound coverings.

Worse still, his feet are totally uncared for and I believe it's affecting his health. His nails are long and cracking (one had cracked off and was bleeding when I was there last), the skin is flaky and dark - either from dirt or just the build-up of dead skin. Because his feet are also swollen, he wears sandals and the soles of his feet are calloused and his heels are cracking. What he needs is a podiatrist, but he can't afford one. I'd volunteer to give him a pedicure (I deal with my mother's crusty feet, so no biggie) but he is touchy about needing help and I don't want to make him more depressed than he already is.

Ideally, I would like to purchase products that will let him take care of himself, but I cannot seem to find anything suitable. Long-handled nail clippers exist but they just aren't long enough. And is there even a device that allows you to rub creams and so forth on hard-to-reach places??

I've got a loofah on an extra-long handle for scrubbing but need help with the other stuff.

I'm in Australia but would be willing to import products if necessary.

posted by ninazer0 to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Would something like a small square of facecloth material attached to the end of a long handle work for applying creams? I'm thinking like a backscratcher-type device, but with a bit of fabric or something at the end.
posted by mdonley at 4:27 PM on October 26, 2008

Best answer:

Carries an incredible amount of stuff for people who are plus or super-sized, including personal hygiene products. And AFAIK, they can ship. I think this is probably what you're looking for.
posted by Controversy2317 at 4:35 PM on October 26, 2008

Is he diabetic?
posted by Houstonian at 4:47 PM on October 26, 2008

A footbath might be a good idea, if you get one of the ones that agitates and keeps the water hot then he can leave his feet in there for as long as he wants-- throw some creams into the water for whatever the desired effect, maybe some disinfectant first, then skin creams. It'll soften the dead skin so a clean with a towel should remove some-- should feel pretty good too.
He'd have to put it on a stool so he can reach it to refil/empty it, so he himslf might need to sit on a higher chair to make all the physics work.
That should make it all a bit nicer down there, maybe enough for him to let you lend a helping hand.

This floor mounted foot scrubber looks useful. Arthritis sufferers would likely have more tools available to them but they essentially have the same movement problems as your mate, should be a good search starting point.

You're a good friend!
posted by Static Vagabond at 4:52 PM on October 26, 2008

Best answer: And is there even a device that allows you to rub creams and so forth on hard-to-reach places??

Yup, like this and this. You might have to search on your end, in case neither of those ship to Australia.
posted by CKmtl at 4:59 PM on October 26, 2008

if he sees a regular doctor for his health issues, the doctor can help get his feet cleaned up and checked out. he doesn't necessarily need a podiatrist--regular doctors take care of elderly patients' feet and diabetics' feet, at least in the u.s. i presume medicine isn't so different in australia.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:28 PM on October 26, 2008

Can he just barely touch his knees while sitting down or standing up? If it's while standing up, perhaps some arrangement of two stools about the same height would help him to reach his feet better. It could be that he already has such stools but they're too uncomfortable. When you're heavier, your butt presses down on a seat harder, so he might need larger or more padded seating to make the pressure bearable at the funny angle he'd have to sit at to reach his feet.
posted by XMLicious at 6:41 PM on October 26, 2008

Oh boy, you had to remind me. Cutting his toenails is something he probably has trouble with, and then he can't get his socks on etc. I'm sure you can block it from your memory at least as well as I have.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:34 PM on October 26, 2008

Response by poster: Further info: As far as I'm aware, he's not diabetic. He can reach his knees whilst sitting (with some straining) and only just whilst standing.

Thinkingwoman: yeah - that's what I thought to, but either they haven't or he won't bring it up because he's embarrassed (most likely, I think).

Which is part of the reason I'm trying to address the problem without actually addressing the problem - I don't want to go "Dude, your feet are vile and I'm gonna have to take matters into my own hands" because he'll die a little inside and that won't help his mental state (depression, compulsive eating etc).

XMLicious: he has trouble sitting in anything other than a lounge or a very large chair - he's just not strong enough to support his bulk for anything more than short periods of time and he just can't get up if the chair is too low. Even his favourite chair requires some thrashing around and struggling to get out of.

Thanks for the suggestions guys - I'm checking them out as we speak. If anything else springs to mind (even a support group or forum I can check out), I'd be deeply grateful.
posted by ninazer0 at 9:56 PM on October 26, 2008

For keeping nails short, could you make some sort of nail file device? Like an emery board on a long stick, or an emery board mounted on something sturdy so that he could move his foot back and forth to file the nails. You could probably use a fine grade sandpaper for the filing surface--that would take off more nail at a time than a regular emery board that's meant for subtle shaping. I suppose it would require some foot/toe dexterity, though.
posted by needs more cowbell at 12:28 AM on October 27, 2008

Ninazer0, you are a kind person to be thinking like this.

He sounds like a prime candidate for community nursing visits and council home care run by the local council. Ring* their main number and ask to speak to someone about community care. Hopefully they will be able to offer some support, and have suggestions for assisted help you can drop into conversation with your friend.

*to find the your local council in Australia, see here.
posted by Kerasia at 7:21 AM on October 27, 2008

It's more than cosmetic. If he has any problems with circulation, it could create serious problems with infection. You don't mention his age, but foot care is very important for older people as well as people with diabetes. So, I'd approach it as "Friend, I'm concerned that you could have foot trouble, and develop infections, because of the cracking & swelling. Can I get a home care practitioner in to help you out with that? Or, I could do a good, safe amateur version."
posted by theora55 at 8:03 AM on October 27, 2008

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