Choosing the right shoes for the elderly can prevent falls

Shoes for ElderlyAs we age, our feet go through many changes that can cause loss of sensation and numbness.  This can make us prone to falling.  Changes such as developing bunions, change in shape, flattening or developing curled toes can be quite painful.  Conditions like Arthritis, Achilles Tendinitis, Diabetes, etc. all require special attention to the type of footwear that is worn to reduce the risk of falls.

These are a few tips on what to look for in buying the right shoes for the elderly to prevent falls:

  1. Right measurements: As feet change, it is important for seniors to have their feet measured. Shoes that are small can cause pain, while shoes that are big can slide off the feet and result in a fall.  They should have a high back to give the ankle the needed support.
  2. Wide opening and toe space: In order to provide better stability, the elderly should choose shoes that have sufficient space in the front area of the shoes.  Also, the person should feel comfortable getting in and out of the shoes.  Having a wide opening also helps by allowing little swelling and increasing mobility.
  3. Heel height: Shoes with a higher heel have a bad effect on posture, gait and balance; therefore associated with an increased fall risk. The right choice when buying shoes is for the heel to be low and durable.
  4. Hard slip resistant soles: Soft soles require more muscle activity to maintain balance which is not possible for many elderly people.  Therefore, soles which are thin and hard are most suitable. The sole must grip the surface, even when wet and slippery.  Soles must be shock absorbing and light in order to provide a soft impact on ankles and heels.
  5. Comfort: While testing out the shoes, make sure that the person feels comfortable in them. They should not feed pain in the feet or lower legs. The material should allow the feet to breathe and should not cause blisters or irritation due to heat.
  6. Convenient fastening: Most elderly have trouble bending over to tie shoelaces, which can also cause a loss of balance and cause them to trip.  Untied shoelaces are another risk for falls in people of all ages.   Shoes with zip fastening or Velcro closure shoes are an easy option.
  7. Insole: If an insole is prescribed, make sure to take it along during the shoe fitting in order to accommodate the insole.

Seniors that have trouble finding comfortable shoes can try orthotic shoes.  They are designed to stabilize the feet and redistribute the pressure in order to have more feeling and sensation in the feet.

Sources:

Dr. Comfort

Graying with Grace

Vestibular