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Safe and Comfortable: Shoe Shopping Guide for Seniors

Over the years of extended use, nearly 80% of seniors develop foot problems. Common foot problems in seniors include arthritis, ingrown toenails, flat foot, diabetic foot ulcers, gout, bunions, hammertoes, stress fractures, fungal infections, and more. Some of these problems arise from everyday activity and health problems such as arthritis and diabetes. Still, the issue for many is inappropriate footwear.

What to Look For

As foot problems develop with age, people often do not realize that improper shoes can cause or worsen these problems. Aging causes poor foot circulation, loss of fat and cushion in the feet, and foot skin and nails to dry out. This means seniors should not wear the same shoes worn for most of their lives when their feet were healthy.

Things to look for in proper footwear for seniors include:

  • Correct size: Over time, feet often become wider and longer after tendons and ligaments weaken, which causes the foot arch to flatten. Measure shoe size regularly to avoid shoes that are too tight.
  • Non-slip: Shoes with a robust and grooved grip can provide balance, stability, and help prevent falls. These shoes may wear out faster than expected, so it is recommended to buy new shoes once the grip is worn down (about every eight to twelve months).
  • Lace-free: Velcro and slip-on shoes are simpler to put on and more secure than lace-up shoes that come loose. Many seniors have trouble and pain bending down to put on their shoes, but lace-free shoes limit having to bend over to retie shoelaces throughout the day.
  • Wide mouth: These are shoes with a wider opening, which helps with putting shoes on and taking them off quickly. This is especially important for those that have feet that tend to swell.
  • High back: A high back shoe can maintain ankle support and stability while walking.
  • Low heel: Shoes with a raised heel (more than 1.5 inches) causes the weight to shift forward, which can strain the toes and balls of the feet.
  • Proper padding: Shoes without cushion puts pressure on the back and hips, so it is essential to buy shoes with padding to disperse each step’s impact. Too much padding allows people to slam their feet down carelessly, creating a bad habit that can cause walking troubles without shoes.
  • Insulated material: Shoes with a sturdy mesh material provide breathability, which decreases the likelihood of foot swelling. This material also allows the shoe to bend with the feet, which can be much more comfortable than shoes with a rigid material.

Shoes to Prevent Falls

Finding the right pair of shoes that provide comfort and stability is not always easy or convenient, but it is necessary to avoid foot problems and ensure safety. Every year, approximately three million seniors are injured from falling, resulting in more than 32,000 deaths. The following is a list of shoes for everyday use that will help prevent falls.

Hush Puppies Men's Gil Slip-On ShoeThese leather shoes have a firm structure and grooved non-slip soles that provide stability, flexibility, and comfort. The velcro straps help easily adjust the tightness and help to get them on and off.

Price: $24-$120

Skechers Performance Women's Go Walk 4 Kindle Slip-On Walking ShoeThese lightweight shoes are made of mesh, with cushioned, breathable insoles to provide maximum comfort. The insoles also have antibacterial odor control. The seamless design intends to reduce the risk of blister development. These come in regular and wide sizes with 17 different color options to match any outfit. These come in 13 other color options to fit any occasion.

Price: $39-$89

New Balance 813 V1 Hook and Loop Walking ShoeWith a lightweight foam cushion and soft collar, these shoes are built for long-lasting comfort. These feature walking strike path technology and rollbar stability post to control foot movement and offer sturdy support. These come in men’s and women’s in black, white, and gray.

Price: $29-$175

Aravon Women's Clarissa Fisherman SandalFor women looking for safe and comfortable shoes that are also more fashionable, these are a sensible option. With a velcro strap, 1.5-inch heel, and closed-toe, these sandals are both comfortable and classy. These sandals come in black and brown.

Price: $37-$122

Allbirds Wool LoungersThese lightweight slip-on shoes are made with soft, temperature-regulated wool. The flexibility of these shoes, and the grooved rubber soles, conform to feet movement, and were designed to be a cozy fit. These are ideal shoes in cold weather and can be worn with or without socks. Either way, these minimize odor while keeping your feet warm and insulated. The Allbirds Wool Loungers are available in men’s and women’s in gray, black, and cream.

Price: $95

Shoes for Seniors With Diabetes

Diabetes can lead to developed nerve damage in their feet that can cause pain, tingling, and loss of feeling in feet. Five things to look for in shoes for people with diabetes are:

  1. Extra deep to fit custom orthotics
  2. Come in three widths (medium, wide, extra-wide)
  3. Closed-toed to secure the feet
  4. Made of leather or other protective material
  5. Stretchable uppers to ease pressure points. Listed below are recommended shoes for diabetic men and women.

Here are some great examples of shoes that fit this criteria:

Propet Women's Cush N Foot SlipperThese slipper shoes are soft and stretchy, with an extra-wide opening to easily take them on or off. They are made of leather and other fabrics for stability and comfort. The heel is one inch high, which is lower than most shoes, and has removable footbeds to fit orthotics if needed. These are available in eight colors and come in narrow, wide, and extra-wide to suit anyone with diabetes.

Price: $14-$83

Propet Men's Life Walker Strap SneakerThese shoes feature brushed nylon lining, a contoured heel, durable arch support, and a padded collar for maximum stability and comfort. The double velcro straps can be easily adjusted to accommodate swollen feet. These have a removable cushioned orthotic and come in three width sizes.

Price: $49-$157

Shoes for Seniors with Arthritis

If people with arthritis in their feet, ankles, knees, or hips wear the wrong shoes, they may face worsened pain, and this can cause damage to other joints. When buying new shoes, look for extra cushioning, a wide toe box, and good arch support. While these are similar characteristics to look for in diabetic shoes, here are shoe options recommended to men or women with arthritis.

Orthofeet Women’s Mary Jane ShoesThese shoes have a unique therapeutic design to enhance stability and alleviate stress from feet. The soft interior lining, extra cushion, and anatomical arch support protect sensitive feet and ease pain from the feet to the lower back. These shoes also have an extra-wide toe box to relieve pressure for those that have bunions or hammertoes. These come in sizes ranging from narrow to extra-wide in black, gray, and blue.

Price: $125

Drew Men Bexley II 43000 Leather Loafers ShoesThese stretchy shoes have leather lining, foam padded collars, and firm heel stabilizers to reduce arthritic pain. The removable footbeds and depth accommodate custom orthotics. These come in sizes ranging from narrow to extra-wide in black and brown.

Price: $176

Let us know in the comments below - What is your favorite shoe? Who would you recommend them for? 

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