How Do I Trim an Older Person's Toenails?

3 answers | Last updated: Nov 06, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Is there a right way to trim the toenails of an older person at home?

Expert Answers

Jane Andersen, DPM, is a board-certified podiatrist in private practice in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She provides surgical and nonsurgical foot and ankle care to all types of patients, including the geriatric population in her area. With the American Podiatric Medical Association, she has worked to educate the public on foot and ankle health.

The best way to trim the toenails of an older adult at home is to trim them straight across, if possible. Rounding the edges encourages ingrown toenails. If the nails are thick, try soaking the feet in warm water prior to trimming.

A toenail clipper with a straight edge works well. Use an emery board to smooth rough edges.

If the nails prove difficult to trim or if the person has diabetes or vascular disease (which warrant regular inspection of feet because they're especially prone to infection and damage), the person should be seen and cared for every two or three months by a podiatrist or other physician.

Community Answers

Geneg answered...

I don't even try to cut my husband's toenails (age 80). Thick, discolored and long. I sought medical advice from his primary care physician who referred us to a podiatrist. Unfortunately, we are having to wait another two weeks for an appointment and even tho he'll have an appointment he will have a very long wait to be treated. The doctor, while being kind and very knowledgeable, is widely known as having patients wait too long. I will not allow my husband, who has Dementia and had aortic valve replacement surgery in 2007 with all the post-operative complications, to wait more than thirty minutes past his appointment time.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I also had a problem cutting my (95) husbands toe nails. I gave up after nipping his toe and making it bleed. i have started taking him to a podiatrist who did a super job and suggested about every 2 months to return for cutting. He also informed me that Medicare would pay for it! What a relief.