What to do About Shoes for Seniors
Finding just the right shoes for seniors can sometimes be a challenge. Sit down and take a good look at your shoes. First, are you wearing shoes?
You should, even when you are in the house. Shoes matter, mostly because they protect your feet and maintain your mobility on your own two feet.
Often, seniors get too comfortable in their old shoes. Shoes that are worn-out, smelly, have worn-down heels, have no laces, or rub your toes are not fit for your feet. Smelly, sweaty shoes may have fungus on the inside, and if your shoes have it, so do your feet.
Poorly fitting shoes?
If the shoes are rubbing your toes or pinching your toes, then your toes are being affected by the abrasion and probably have corns and callouses. If you are like older people, your feet have become wider and flatter over time. It is likely that you have dry skin and brittle toenails. The old shoes you are wearing are possibly causing more problems than you realize. It’s best to get rid of them.
Do you usually wear slippers?
“Slippers and slip-on shoes are apt to cause the wearer’s heel to withdraw from the shoe; they also increase toe flexion during the swing phase of gait to retain the slipper on the foot.” according to physical therapist Joan Edelstein of the New York University School of Medicine. In other words, it’s easy to step out of slippers and trip.
Are you a flip-flop wearer?
Then, you are taking a risk of damaging your toes or toenails if you drop something. Also, a flip-flop is very easy to trip over, and tripping leads to falling. Flip-flops are not for you.
Regular changes of shoes and regular care of feet are very important for elders who may have less feeling in their feet, or who are less aware of their pain.
So, what are the best shoes for seniors to wear?
In her article in Physical Therapy, Edelstein gives some good advice for seniors in choosing shoes.
- First, new shoes must be comfortable. Increase your wear time gradually to guard against shoes that cause pain.
- Consider the length, width and capacity of the shoe and its shape. Ask a caregiver or shoe salesperson to trace the outline of both of your feet while you are standing. Use this outline to judge shoes and their length and width. There may be a size difference between feet. Choose a size that fits the larger foot. The shoe for the smaller foot can have an insert put in to make it fit better.
- It is probably best to choose a shoe that has the upper section made of soft leather or heavy fabric. The weight of the shoe should also be considered for a frail patient. The surface should be easy to keep clean.
- Get shoes that close in a way that is easily managed. A person who cannot tie laces may be able to use a VELCRO brand touch fastener flap or a buckle that can be adjusted by hand, foot or cane.
- The back of the shoe should be stabilizing to the ankle and heel. The heel should be compressible, low and broad.
- A solid, thick sole is very important to mobility. Non-skid soles, like in sneakers and sports shoes, provide good traction. Patients with Parkinson’s may find that smooth soles help them move a little more smoothly.
If you have callouses, bunions, ingrown toenails, or foot pain, then seeing a foot doctor, a podiatrist, can help you resolve these problems. The doctor can also help you know how to improve your shoes’ fit for your feet. There are a variety of adaptations possible from custom-fit shoes to inserts, shields and cushions that fit in shoes.
Take a look at your shoes. Do you need to go shopping for some good shoes for seniors?
New shoes that help your feet, rather than hurt your feet, really are worth the money.
*“Foot Care for the Aging” by Joan E. Edelstein, MA. P.T., in Physical Therapy, Vol. 68, Number 12, 1988.