Focused assessment of foot care in older adults

J Am Geriatr Soc. 1996 Mar;44(3):310-3. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1996.tb00921.x.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence and characteristics of foot problems in non-diabetic individuals compared with those in a diabetic population in order to develop recommendations for preventive foot care in older people.

Design: Retrospective review of a convenience sample of all patients referred to a Foot Care Service during a 24-month period.

Setting: University Health Sciences Center.

Participants: A total of 308 patients aged 33 to 95 years (176 women and 132 men), of whom 183 had diabetes mellitus (DM) and 125 were without DM.

Intervention: Each subject had a detailed history of foot care behavior and a thorough foot examination for peripheral neuropathy (PN), peripheral vascular disease (PVD), and foot deformities. PN was evaluated using the Semmes-Weinstein monofilament test. PVD was graded by clinical measures and Doppler examination (ankle:brachial index < 0.8).

Measurements: Forty-three percent of subjects with diabetes had PN, 32% had PVD, and 19% had both conditions. Eighteen percent of subjects without diabetes had PN, 21% had PVD, and 6% had both. The risk of foot abnormalities in those without DM increased with age (r = .99, P = .0002). Thirty-eight percent of non-diabetic patients older than age 60 had one or more of these major risk factors and would be considered at high risk for the development of foot ulcers or amputation. Ninety percent of the subjects reported inappropriate foot care practices. Forty-seven percent of non-diabetic individuals with PN or PVD wore inappropriate shoes.

Conclusion: Older individuals without DM are at high risk for foot-related disease and should receive the same foot care screening, education, and follow-up as those with DM. Older people who have PN, PVD, or physical and psychosocial limitations, may require referral to foot care specialists.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Diabetic Foot / diagnosis*
  • Diabetic Foot / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Foot Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Foot Diseases / prevention & control
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Prevalence
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Care* / methods