WALLA WALLA -- Don't take your health for granted, especially your feet. That's the strong message coming from foot care provider Julie Caron at the Center at the Park.
She's been offering the service for a year but it has been a feature at the center much longer. Each session is different due to individual situations and medical condition. But usually Caron takes the person's blood pressure first, then they get a good foot soak. After that, she gives each foot a checkup.
Having someone check an older person's feet is important according to Caron, because they can't always reach their feet and they may not be strong enough to clip their toenails.
"You may find problems they didn't know about by having their feet examined," she said. You can't treat something you don't know is wrong. It's preventative as well, often preventing something small from becoming much worse.
Client Bill Bozlee agreed that the foot care is extremely important, "because of the big D, I'm diabetic."
Diabetes can increase problems with circulation in the feet and lower legs, emphasizing the need to be aware of the health of your feet. He also sustained a hip injury during his working years which makes it difficult to lift his leg up enough to provide the foot care made necessary by the diabetes.
But Caron takes into account each individual's physical condition. It's about improving and preventing rather than any invasive procedure.
"She's extremely kind and gentle," Bozlee said. Her gentle thoroughness is important for those who have some fear of being hurt in a checkup.
"I have lots of people that come in who are afraid," Caron said.
There are important things to watch for, such as swelling and redness that doesn't go away. "We check their pulse, their circulation, look for ulcers or things that won't heal and edema. And always dry between the toes."
Care after the soak includes a thorough drying, a check for problems and a cleaning.
She also takes the time to do some health educating during the session, about why foot care is important. If you have some problems with maneuvering to reach your feet, there are tools to help you. If you have calluses and can't scrub them, use a brush and a pumice stone or more adaptable equipment.
A PedEgg with a handle, according to Bozlee, really helps. "I can actually reach my feet. It works great," he said.
Caron stressed little injuries can evolve into very serious problems if you aren't aware of them. For those with circulation problems and diabetes, the feet lose sensitivity and injuries are more easily overlooked.
The foot clinic is about health concerns, not cosmetics.
"There's no nail polish or anything like that," she said. Preventive measures include keeping the feet clean, using lotion and when possible, massaging the feet to help circulation.
According to Bozlee, "Longer toenails are not good; the massage helps, too. It's tremendous to have care of your feet."
While exercise is good, caution is good also.
"Going barefoot is extremely dangerous for the elderly, you could stub your toe and break it. You have to guard against injuries," Bozlee said.
"You need to examine your feet once a day as best as you can. Wear shoes more than going barefoot," Caron said. "There are lots of diseases that can be picked up through the feet, especially with dry, cracked skin. There's bacteria on the ground and the bacteria absorbs through dry skin."
The massage is everybody's favorite part, Caron said. "I always end up purring," Bozlee remarked. "She really tailors her care to the individual little problems and anticipates what they're going to be."
Karlene Ponti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8324.
If you go
Right now the foot care clinic is held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 1:30-4 p.m. Call the Center at the Park for information and an appointment at 509-527-3775.