As our parents and grandparents get older, they go through many changes, especially with their physical health. Their bodies shrink, their health begins to fail them, and they can get a bit less stable. In particular, their feet may change and need more support than they previously did. The lower half of the body needs more assistance to prevent slips and falls.
Other than assistive ambulatory devices such as canes and walkers, the most important tool to help older adults stay stable is footwear. Depending on their needs, they may need orthotic inserts or custom orthotic shoes made to fit their foot shape due to developed deformities.
The following are some guidelines for finding the right shoes for seniors:
- Fit – Have your older loved one try the shoes on. They should get measured and then try on the new pair of shoes to ensure a good fit.
- Feel – Are the shoes comfortable? Senior footwear should be shock-absorbing with ample cushioning, as well as supportive in the arch and heel. If there is a foot deformity like bunions, you may need shoes that have a bigger toebox or wider metatarsal area.
- Friction – If there is tightness in a certain area of the foot, there can be extra friction, which can cause blisters, corns, or calluses.
- Form – When the seniors have the shoes on, are they stable and able to hold good posture? If there’s an issue with balance, the shoes are not helpful for them.
- Function – Will they be used in an indoor or outdoor setting? The outer soles of the shoes should be chosen, specifically for the function in which it will be used. Rubber outer soles with anti-slip tread are great for smooth or slippery surfaces, like hardwood in the home or marble in a restaurant. If the shoes are for indoors in a carpeted home, the outer soles should be smooth so that carpet pile does not trip up the outer sole.
It’s important for seniors to get regular podiatric assessments. If you are a primary caregiver for your older loved one, don’t forget to check their feet for new issues, such as diabetic neuropathy. If you are worried about foot or ankle-related issues, make an appointment with us at The Podiatry Group. Our podiatrists, Dr. Mark E. Reiner, Dr. Michael A. Haughey, Dr. William G. Coates, and Dr. Erik D. Rosenlof can perform a thorough assessment at our Jonesboro, AR office to treat their feet and keep them healthy.