Nail care is an important part of personal hygiene, but it becomes much more difficult as we age.
As bending over and reaching down becomes considerably more challenging, nail clipping and toenail hygiene can often fall by the wayside for elderly individuals and those who are mobility impaired.
Selecting an appropriate set of nail clippers is one way to make regular toenail trimmings somewhat more manageable and attainable for elderly individuals.
In this article, we’ll discuss why nail hygiene is so important, go over what factors to consider when choosing a toenail clipper for elderly seniors, and review some of our top picks for nail clippers.
How Do Nails Change With Age?
Nails can change in a number of ways as we age, with nails often altering in terms of:
- Thickness. Nails thicken with age, as the nails slow their rate of growth and thicken as the nail calls (refered to as onychocytes) collect and pile up. In addition, there are various fungal infections that can increase a toe nail’s thickness even more.
- Brittleness. Elderly toe nails are more prone to breaking because the nail is weaker and has less natural oils, resulting in a drier, more brittle nail.
- Shape. As we age, it’s not unusual to experience toe deformities such as bunions or hammertoes, which can make a toe nail clipping sessions that much more challenging.
- Color. It’s not unusual for seniors to find their toe nails becoming duller and even turning shades of yellow. A yellow nail is often the sign of a fungus infection and should be treated with antifungal cream.
Why Are Seniors Are More Risk for Nail Issues?
As we get older, our feet become weaker, thinner, and lose elasticity. This change makes it more difficult to avoid foot problems such as blisters, infections, bunions, etc.
An elderly foot can be at increased risk also due to:
- Fungal Infections. Elderly seniors tend to be at a higher risk of toe nail fungal infections because the immune system may not be as strong and nails are drier, allowing for more cracking and splits where bacteria can get in.
- Impaired Circulation. It’s not uncommong for seniors to experience a loss of circulation in the feet, which can further weaken the toe nail. Lack of circulation also leads to colder toes, which is part of the reason many seniors prefer to wear slippers indoors.
- Trauma. Ill-fitting shoes or dropping objects on one’s foot can further damage a fragile foot and nail bed. This is why it’s always important for seniors to select properly-fitted, wide toebox snow boots and sneakers.
In addition, seniors who attempt to cut their own toenails may meet a number of challenges, including:
- Arthritis can make it difficult to operate standard nail clippers.
- Hand tremors due to musculoskeletal or neurological disorders make keeping a steady hand a challenge.
- The lack of flexibility required to bend over makes it difficult toaccess toenails safely.
- Poor eyesight can make it challening to cut nails with confidence.
What to Look for in a Good Nail Clipper for Seniors
Some seniors may have dexterity issues that impair their ability to hold onto nail clippers or maneuver them properly. Selecting a set of toenail clippers with an ergonomic, long handle fitted with a rubberized grip can be helpful.
Large Jaw Size
Large jaws can be easier to operate for elderly individuals who have difficulty bending over or holding onto smaller clippers. Plus, larger jaws don’t require as much precision threading of the nail between the two blades as a smaller clipper might.
A set of toenail clippers with an angled head is helpful for seniors that are confined to a sitting position. Angeled nail clippers are also ideal for combatting ingrown nails.
A sharp blade is essential for cutting through tough toenails. Dull blades can cause excess pressure, which may be difficult or painful for seniors and those with arthritis.
Best Nail Clippers for Seniors
1. Huing Podiatrist Toenail Clippers
About: The Huing Podiatrist Toenail Clippers are specifically designed to cut ingrown and thick toenails. The blade features a sharp, curved blade so it’s easy to make a precise, fast cut.
The clippers are made of surgical-grade stainless steel and include a double spring for better durability. Plus, the handle relies on an ergonomic design that provides a comfortable, firmer grip.
- Sturdy, ergonomic handle
- Sharp, curved blades for precise cutting
- May still be challenging for a senior to get the right angle if cutting their own nails
2. EZ Grip 360 Degree Rotary Toe Nail Clippers
About: The EZ Grip 360 Rotating Toenail Clipper relies on an innovative swivel design that allows you to cut nails in a position that’s comfortable and easy for you.
While the swivel design may not be especially beneficial for a caretaker who is cutting a senior’s nails from the front of their foot, this rotary style may be the factor that allows a confident senior to clip their own toenails without assistance.
The wide easy-grip handles are also ergonomically designed to provide comfortable clipping.
Some report that the clipper isn’t wide enough to easily cut toe nails, so this clipper may not work for those with larger toe nails.
A few users felt the blade was duller than expected.
- Swivel design may allow a senior to cut their own nails more easily
- Wide, easy-grip handles
- Since it’s designed for finger and toe nails, the clipper blades aren’t very wide
3. GLAMFIELDS Nail Clipper with Catcher
About: The GLAMFIELDS Nail Clipper with Catcher is a great clipper for seniors who get annoyed with nail pieces flying across the room and bending over to collect the pieces.
This clipper has a built-in nail catcher that collects the nail pieces that might otherwise fall on the floor while you clip away at your nails. The connected storage box can simply be emptied into the trash after use.
The clipper blades themselves are made of high-quality stainless steel and feature hand-sharpened, curved blades that allow for smooth and precise clipping.
This nail clipper also uses an ergonomic design with a thicker tension lever to provide adequate leverage for clipping comfortably.
The clipper also includes a built-in nail file and is actually available in several different sizes and styles. The clipper itself is .98 inches wide. For ingrown nails, try this manufacturer’s wide-jaw design for more power.
- Makes cleaning up nail clippings easy, as they get caught in the contained compartment.
- Lever may be difficult for those with arthritis to manuever. The same holds true for releasing the nail catch remains compartment.
4. Long Handle Toenail Clipper
About: This Long Handel Toe Nail Clipper features a standard wide-style toenail clipper, but it’s attached to an extra-long handle that eliminated the need for bending!
The handle is 22″ long, allowing you to extend your reach easily.
- Sturdy, vacuum insulated water bottle keeps liquids cool
- Includes a leak-proof lid and a straw lid
- Comes in several sizes depending on hydration goals
- Design may still be difficult to manuever for those with arthritis or tremors, as well as those with poor eyesight
5. CLIPPERPRO Omega Classic Fingernail Clipper
About: The CLIPPERPRO Omega Classic Fingernail Clipper features an ergonomic lightweight plastic handle that provides seniors with a better grip, as it’s designed to be held in the palm of one’s hand rather than with the fingertips, which is much more difficult for those with arthritis to manage.
The whole apparatus was designed by three orthopedic surgeons, and it’s specifically made to help provide relief from arthritis pain during the toe nail cutting process.
The blades are made of surgical-grade stainless steel and swivel 180°, allowing you to can clip at any angle.
- Long, sturdy, ergonomic handle
- Designed by orthopedic surgeons for patients with arthritis
- 180 degree blade swivel allows for easier angeled cutting
- May be unnecessarily cumbersome for a caregiver
6. K-Beauty! Three Seven Extra Large Toenail Clipper
About: The K-Beauty! clipper features a large, rounded, ergonomic handle with sections of silicone non-slip coating to provide a better grip.
The nail clipper is designed with an oversized head, which allows for easy cutting of both toenails and fingernails on any foot size. It also contains a built-in metal shaving board.
- Many report that these clippers are comfortable and hefty enough to cut through even thick nails
- No swivel, making it potentially difficult for a senior to get the perfect angle
Elderly Toe Nail Clipping Safety Tips
Opt For Two Pairs of Nail Clippers
To keep your nails healthy, it’s important to keep two clippers on hand – one for fingernails and the other for toenails. Toenails are thicker and broader, so they require a larger, wider clipper.
Keeping a set of nail clippers for your hands and a separate one for your feet reduces the chance of transferring bacteria or fungus from your foot to your hand. Always make sure to clean the clippers thoroughly after each use to prevent bacteria from growing.
It’s important to cut nails regularly so they don’t get too long. Generally, best practice suggests aiming to clip toenails every 6-8 weeks.
Toenails should be kept fairly short. The longer the nails are, the more likely they’ll be to break or snag on clothing.
Cutting Toe Nails Wet vs Dry
Generally, for a mid-age adult, it’s best to cut nails dry since they are less likely to tear or bend while cutting. However, for elderly seniors who have especially thick nails, cutting wet nails can be easier, as the nails are softer and more pliable in this state.
If you’re going to cut toenails while they’re wet, make sure the clipper is very sharp to mitigate the risk of tearing or ripping the nail.
How To Cut An Older Person’s Toe Nails
- Soak the feet. Experts suggest starting off by soaking an elderly senior’s feet in warm water for 10 minutes or so to soften the nails. Don’t forget to dry off the feet too!
- Cut using small, straight cuts. Make small, uniform, straight clips across the nail to avoid splintering. It’s also recommended to not round off the corners of the toe nail with clippers, as this can increase risks of the nails becoming ingrown.
- Smooth off the top. Use an emory board to smooth off and round the nail edges gently. Avoid leaving any jagged edges that could get caught on socks or clothing.
- Moisturize. Moisturize the skin and the nail area in order to prevent cracking, which can result in infection. Opt for gentle moisurizers featuring ingredients like coconit oil, petroleum jelly, or shea-butter. Cuticle creams work great too! Avoid scents and fragrances, as they can potentially dry out the skin further or cause allergic reactions.
Senior Toe Nail Cutting FAQs
What Should I Do If the Nail Has Fungus?
If the toe nails are infected with fungus, they’ll be even thicker than usual. In these cases, you can cut the nail by using more durable, medical-grade clippers and starting off with a longer 20-30 minute foot soak.
Keep in mind that fungal nails are more likely to crumble. Attempting to clip off too much nail at once may result in cracks or splits, so be careful to clip only small parts at a time and keep the clips straight and uniform.
You’ll also want to disinfect the clippers even more carefully using alcohol. If the fungus doesn’t go away through over-the-counter solutions, be sure to visit a podiatrist.
Where Does Nail Polish Factor In?
Nail polish can be a fun and pretty way to make your nails look elegant, but nail polish can easily irritate your nail bed – especially if you’re already battling a fungal infection. If you are adamant about wearing nail polish, try not to touch the skin around your nails while you’re wearing nail polish.
Should Seniors Get Pedicures?
A pedicure can be a great way for a senior to get their nails properly clipped while also removing dead skin and calluses. However, not all seniors are in a financial position to get a pedicure regularly.
Any toenail trimming clips we missed? What are your favorite toenail clippers to use for thick senior nails? Share your experiences in the comments!
Last update on 2021-09-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API