Points to consider when selecting footwear for seniors - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Points to consider when selecting footwear for seniors

Safety and comfort must be on the top of the mind when choosing footwear for seniors. With ageing, seniors tend to lose that natural ability to maintain the body balance and as muscles become weak, chances of slip and fall increase greatly. Shoes or similar footwear can prevent seniors from hurting due to slip and fall as evident from a study that shows the majority of victims (52%) were either barefoot at the time of fall or were wearing socks only or slippers. Slippers are most dangerous for seniors as 27% of victims wore slippers when they slipped and fell. The consequences of falling because of wearing improper footwear were more serious than those falling despite wearing proper footwear. By far, shoes are the best footwear for seniors. However, not all shoes are good for seniors, and you must know what kinds of shoes are most safe and comfortable too.

Safety features of shoes

The laces or Velcro used in shoes might appear quite innocuous, but if you look at it from a safety perspective, its role is very important. For safety, it is critical to ensure that the footwear fits snugly on foot and makes one feel comfortable which is only possible by tying the laces or strapping the Velcro properly. When purchasing Velcro shoes for seniors, you must keep this in mind besides looking at some other aspects too that adds to the safety features of footwear.  The shoe body or upper should be firm and high for lending stability to the foot, beveled heel and textured sole prevents slipping, a thin midsole allows the wearer to feel the ground under the feet, and the toe box must be roomy enough to let the toe stay stress-free.

Walking shoes for seniors

Seniors strive to stay active by maintaining the habit of walking and need a safe pair of walking shoes to support their daily routine with assured safety. Shoes that seniors had worn at a young age like boots and heels are neither comfortable nor reliable for walking.   Even the walking shoes of the younger days do not seem good anymore as people keep ageing. Seniors need to change their shoes for some design and style that offers the right support and comfort besides reducing the chances of falling that typically increases with age. Ageing impacts the entire body, and it is no surprise that the feet also undergo changes.  You must choose shoes by keeping in mind the changes that have happened to the feet.

Changes that your feet undergo due to ageing

Through the years as you walk towards the sunset years, the shape and size of your feet change. Accordingly, the need for footwear also changes.  The type of shoes that you were very comfortable with 20 years ago seems quite a misfit today. The changes to the feet can happen in many ways.

  • Change in length and width– Due to ageing the tendons and ligaments become weak and lose its elasticity thereby making the feet wider, longer and even more flat. Indeed, there might some changes to the shoe size and the design and shape that suits the feet at an older age will be quite different too.
  • Skin changes and foot swelling– Heels tend to crack as you age because of dry skin that develops calluses. Due to some health conditions or medications, there might be circulation problems for which many seniors experience swelling of foot and ankle. You may have to use different shoes at different times depending on the condition of the foot. Larger size shoes are suitable when the foot is swollen, and when the swelling goes away you would need a different pair of shoes. If you use compression socks to keep the swelling in check, then you must choose the shoe size that fits appropriately on foot.
  • Reduced natural cushioning –The protection of natural cushioning of the foot provided by the fat pad at the bottom of the foot keeps diminishing with age. As you lose the natural padding, you feel more discomfort and pain. To maintain the gap between the bottom of the foot and the ground, you must use insoles or cushioned shoes that provide comfort.
  • Foot problems can aggravate– Those who are used to wearing elevated heels or pointed shoes for many years start experiencing lots of foot problems that show up in the form of hammertoes, bunions and other foot conditions.

Impact of diseases on the foot

Ageing affects the gait of many people who might start limping or walk with a stick.  Diseases like neuropathy, arthritis and other conditions bring changes to the way people walk and considerably slow down the speed. Such people might feel the discomfort of the foot that experiences pressure at different places due to the change in the gait that is likely to occur in people in their seventies and increases as they cross eighty.

A large population of the world, almost 20%, suffers from diabetes that affects the blood circulation and results in loss of sensation in the feet. Special foot care is necessary for such people by selecting shoes that fit well and do not cause blisters that can worsen the problems if it gets infected.

Balance issues

Our body has the natural ability to regain the balance in case of a slip or tripping, but it reduces with age and the reason why seniors are most susceptible to slip and fall. Sometimes dizziness caused by medications might be the reason for losing balance and falling. To prevent slip and fall, you must wear shoes that offer the right support to the body and have non-slip soles preferably with high collars.

For safe walking seniors who go for walks to maintain health and fitness would do good to wear athletic shoes suitable for walking or running. Visit a shoe shop that has helped seniors with the appropriate walking solutions by considering their gait and health condition. They would evaluate your needs correctly and provide stability shoes or motion control shoes with necessary modifications that best suit your conditions.





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