What are the best type of shoes for seniors or older people at risk of falls? As a podiatrist this is a question and a scenario we are faced with (and asked about) multiple times daily. The answer? A little more complicated than giving you a specific shoe I’m afraid, but I’ll run through a few things that may help you when you’re making your purchases.
It’s important to realise the benefits of a good shoe as opposed to a bad shoe. I will point out that shoes themselves are not inherently bad, but sometimes the design and the construction of them is far from optimal for every individual. Some bad shoes have a really specific purpose and work perfectly for the right person and the right scenario. The same is true of a good shoe. For the purpose of this blog, I’ll be focussing the discussion on shoes we prefer that can give you the grounding you need to help with balance and prevent a fall.
Every year, more than 1 in 3 older people will have a fall, and the likelihood of a severe injury increases with age.
Falls can happen to everyone, but one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent a fall is to change the type of shoes you wear.
Seniors are often not wearing the right shoes which can cause problems with balance. Often they require help for mobility so they will be wearing something easy to slip on or off with ease. These type of shoes are very comfortable but don’t have enough stability or cushioning in them to hold the foot firmly enough. Try to imagine your feet as reference points on a map, and without good mobility, strength and grounding you may find yourself heading in the wrong direction.
Good shoes help keep older people grounded
Active seniors need to choose the right shoe for the job. They should be fairly lightweight, secure on the feet, and comfortable.
If you’re of mature age, here are some questions you can ask yourself to check if shoes are right for you:
- Do the shoes fit well? The shoes should be secure around your heels, and have space at the end of your toes
- Are they enclosed and comfortable? We recommend you do your shoe purchase when your feet are feeling their worst – late in the afternoon or the end of the day. Make sure they’re enclosed and comfortable.
- Do they bend at the ball of the foot? They need to be flexible at the ball of your foot, but rigid under your arch
- Do the shoes have a flat sole? Heel blocks, hard edges and high heels can increase your risk of falling
- Do the shoes have a bit of bounce? The sole should be low and soft, giving you good feel for the ground
- You should avoid shoes that are heavy, rigid, or hard. Shoes shouldn’t have a slippery sole, and shouldn’t be able to be kicked off without untying laces or straps.
- You should also avoid shoes with leather soles, or shoes with high heels.
Good shoes don’t have to be boring. Our goal is to keep you moving, safe and healthy. The last thing we want to do is purchase a pair of shoes you hate the look or style of, so your podiatrist will always try and work with you to find a shoe that meets your needs, and is fashionable enough for you to want to wear them regularly. There is a style for every budget and sometimes the cheap and cheerful are the ones that will give you the outcome you want.
Podiatrists are dedicated to helping people choose the right shoes, and will often work with shoe companies and specialist shoe stores to make sure they’re happy.
If anything mentioned today is ringing a few alarm bells for you or a loved one, you might be asking yourself are my shoes safe?
If you’re unsure if your shoes are safe, speak with your podiatrist. That’s what we’re here for! There is no such thing as a dumb question when it comes to things as important as this, and we are more than happy and willing to help.
The podiatrists at Sutherland Podiatry Centre can assess your balance and current footwear, and, if needed help connect you with specialist shoe stores to make sure you choose the right shoes for you. If you would like anymore information, don’t hesitate to call us on 9542 3491.
Speak to you again soon,