As your parent gets older, you'll have to do more things for them. For example, your parent may find it harder to cut their toenails safely and effectively over time. In some cases, this is down to a decrease in mobility—your parent may find it hard to bend down or to get a grip on nail scissors or clippers. In other cases, toenails that thicken and become harder with age may make trimming really difficult for your parent. Even you may have problems dealing with thickened toenails—how can you make this job easier?

Make Toenails More Pliable

If your parent's toenails have become really thick, then you probably can't cut them effectively unless you soften them up. In fact, you probably shouldn't try to cut them when they are dry and hard—hardened toenails are not easy to cut straight, making it easier to cause problems like ingrown toenails, sharp edges and nicks on the toes.

If you can get your parent to soak their feet, then even hardened toenails should soften up enough to make cutting easier. For example, it's easier to cut thickened nails after your parent has had a bath or after soaking their feet in a tub of warm water. If you have a foot spa, then this is also a good way to soften up hard nails—it may also make your parent feel a little more pampered.

Once the nails have softened up, you should find them easier to cut. They may still be harder than you'd like, but soaking should make them manageable.

Use the Right Tools

Thickened nails can be harder to cut than regular nails, even after soaking, and you may find that your nail scissors aren't up to the job. You can buy special nail clippers that are designed to cut through thicker nails much more effectively than scissors—this may take some of the strain out of the job for you. Take extra care when you're cutting your parent's nails. It's best to cut nails straight across and to use a file to smooth out rough spots or edges.

If you find it too hard to cut your parent's toenails or are worried about not doing a good enough job, then book your parent in for a podiatry appointment. Podiatrists have experience dealing with the toughest nails and should be able to deal with your parent's feet quickly and safely.

Tip: If your parent has diabetes or circulatory problems, then it's especially important to have a podiatrist look at their feet. These conditions can affect foot health—your podiatrist can use regular nail-cutting sessions to look out for potential problems.