Keeping our older loved ones active and mobile is essential to keeping them healthy. It affects not only their physical health, but also their mental health by giving them a sense of independence. Supportive footwear plays an important role in keeping older adults safe in their mobility. Promoting balance, maneuverability, and cushioning are key features of supportive footwear for seniors, who are at a higher risk of falls.
If your loved one seems to be struggling with walking or is at high risk for falls, follow these tips for finding supportive footwear for older adults:
- Shoe structure and outer soles: Find shoes for the right environment. If they need support indoors, appropriate shoes will vary depending on if they have carpets or hardwood floors. Outer soles with grip/tread will get caught in high-pile carpeting, but are optimal for hardwood or other smooth floors. In carpeted areas, smooth outer soles will prevent tripping. Shoes should be made of breathable material, especially if seniors will wear indoor shoes for long periods of time. For outdoor footwear, outer soles should provide grip to prevent slipping on wet floors. Materials should be breathable and lightweight but tough. Heavy shoes will weight them down.
- Toebox: The front of the shoe where the toes engage the shoe is called the toebox. You should find shoes that will fit the shape of your older adult’s toes, including any bunions (or other deformities they might have). Otherwise, toeboxes that are too narrow and shallow will cause pain, while toeboxes that are wide and tall will leave space for possible blisters. Toes need room to wiggle, but should not slide around in the shoes.
- Arch support: Arches should be supported by a tough but cushiony midsole. The shoe should not be able to twist at the middle, nor should it be able to bend in half.
- Heel cups: The heels of the feet should fit snuggly into the cushiony heel cups. They should feel supported by the rigidity of the back of the shoes. Heels that fit well will prevent blisters and instability when moving.
Because feet can keep shifting and changing, it is best to try on shoes before buying them, or be willing to return shoes that do not fit well. If possible, measure feet each time you go to the shoe store, including the width of the feet. Some feet can swell, while others can shrivel up.
In some cases, your older loved one may need orthotic inserts to best support their needs. Come see our podiatrist, Dr. Jonathan M. Kletz at Texas Foot Works with questions or concerns about balance or foot pain. Make an appointment today at any of our Abrams (Dallas), Athens, and Gun Barrell City, TX offices so that we can assess and assist you and your family.