Safe and Healthy Nail Care for Your Aging Parent

Senior Care in Islip NY

Your parent’s nails may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about your care efforts for them, but the truth is they can play an important role in their health and safety. Senior-Care-in-Islip-NYFingernails can play host to germs and bacteria that can increase the risk that your parent will become ill or get an infection. They can also tear or scratch the skin or tear away from the nailbed and make your parent even more vulnerable to these health complications. With proper nail care, however, your parent can avoid these injuries and health issues and stay healthier, safer, and more comfortable.

Senior nails are not like the nails of younger people. They are more curved and grow at a 40 percent reduced rate. Because they also have far less water content than the nails of younger people, they are also brittle. This makes them prone to cracking, splitting, peeling, and texture changes. All of these issues increase the chances that your parent will experience potential problems such as breaking, pulling, tearing, and rough edges that can make them more dangerous for your aging parent.


Use these tips for safe and healthy nail care for your aging parent:

  • Avoid excessive washing. Frequent hand washing is important to germ control, but excessive washing is hard on the skin and the nails. Continuous exposure to hot water and soap dries out the nails and makes them more brittle.
  • Protect from water. When your parent is not washing their hands, protect them from the water as much as possible. Wearing gloves while washing dishes or doing chores around the house protects their hands from exposure to water as well as potentially harmful chemicals.
  • Moisturize. If you notice that your parent’s nails are particularly dry and brittle, it is important to replenish the moisture. Encourage them to use moisturizing soaps and hand wash whenever possible to help combat the drying effects of water exposure. Further moisturize by massaging high quality hand cream into the hands and nails. Make sure that this product does not contain water, alcohol, or other drying ingredients. Nail oils or even olive or coconut oil can be exceptionally nourishing to dry, brittle nails.
  • Reduce their length. Long nails can be especially hazardous for elderly adults. They can break, creating sharp edges that can tear into the skin. They can also break off, ripping the nail bed and causing injury to the finger. Longer nails also have more space to hold germs, bacteria, and other potentially harmful contaminants. Use nail clippers to trim the nails down and then use a metal or glass file to smooth the edges. Avoid using emery boards that can pull at or even tear the skin of the nail bed.
  • Paint them. A pop of color on the nails is a great way for your parent to feel better about themselves, but it can also be beneficial. Polish protects the nails and holds in moisture. For the most benefit, use polish that does not contain formaldehyde and avoid removing and changing the nail polish frequently as the acetone in nail polish remover can be very drying.


If you are uncomfortable offering this type of care to your aging parent, or live at a distance and want to make sure that your parent’s nails are properly cared for, a senior care provider can be exceptionally helpful. This senior health care services provider can create a personalized approach to care that takes your parent’s health and needs into mind and addresses them in the way that is right for them.


If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Islip, NY, please contact the caring staff at Family First Home Companions. Serving all of Long Island. Call today: (631) 319-3961



Jennifer Benjamin
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