Shoes are an important part of everyone’s clothing, especially for the elderly. Properly fitting shoes can also help in the prevention of falls. Harvard Medical School has estimated that an estimated 18,000 Americans die each year after being injured from a fall.
As we age, the muscle in our feet thins, blood may pool in the veins and cause swelling, and the nerves don’t transmit electrical messages as well as they did in previous years. Structural changes can also occur such as bunions, a misalignment of the big toe that forces the metatarsal bone to push sideways; claw or hammer toes; or arches that fall and create flat feet.
All of that means shoes become more important as we age, to help provide support, cushion, and stability. Shoes that are a “favorite pair” shouldn’t be worn forever either; shoes should be replaced about every 12 months. That’s because the cushion continues to compress with wear, the sole may wear unevenly due to the person’s gait, and his or her feet may be changing as well.
Seeing a podiatrist may be a good plan as well. Some believe that simple exercises and stretches can help strengthen balance and help prevent falls.
Specially designed shoes, also known as adaptive shoes, are designed for an older adult’s feet, particularly if they have arthritis, swelling, or diabetes. These shoes often have wider openings so it’s easier to slide the feet inside the shoe; easy open fasteners like hook and loop closures; non-skid soles; and additional padding or areas that stretch, to allow room for a bunion.
Another factor to consider when buying shoes for the elderly is the return policy, since often it’s a caregiver or family member making the purchase. Also, using a shoe horn may be helpful; some shoehorns now are extra long so the person doesn’t have to bend over to place it in the back of the shoe.
Another recommendation comes from FootPrints caregivers helping seniors in their homes: don’t wear slippers or stay in stocking-covered feet. Slippers may be comfortable but they provide no support. Socks are cozy but can also be very slippery.
Our senior home caregivers are always on the alert for safety issues at each senior’s home. We help with the activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, and toileting, as well as housekeeping, meal preparation, and companionship. Our mission is to serve families across central New Mexico, allowing the elderly family member to remain in their own home for as long as possible. If we can assist your family or help with resources on aging, please contact FootPrints Senior Home Care in Albuquerque.