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Best Shoes for the Elderly Based on Research

by Derrick
best shoes for the elderly feature
Walking is an important part of healthy aging. Make sure you have the right shoes for it.

There are many shoes to choose from, shoes for every purpose, including shoes for the elderly who have problems with balance and are at an increased risk for falls. There are so many choices, in fact, that it can sometimes become confusing on just which shoes are the best. We’ve narrowed down not only the choices, but how to choose what shoes will work best for you or your loved one.

Most of the links in this article go to the well-researched articles that were used to write this article, so you can be assured that you are getting verified advice backed by professional studies.

The National Council on Aging reports that one in four individuals over the age of 65 falls every year. On average, an older person is treated for a fall in an emergency room every 11 seconds, and every 19 minutes, a senior dies from injuries resulting from a fall. Older individuals with a history of falls have a higher risk of future falls when compared to those who have only fallen once or never. The right footwear can help reduce the risk of falls among the elderly. 

Unfortunately, many seniors wear improper footwear both indoors and out. Choosing a better shoe can help prevent falls. Shoes help with balance by changing the somatosensory feedback to the feet. Shoes also change the friction level between the sole and the floor. Wearing just socks indoors or going barefoot increases the chances of falling because that friction is reduced. 

Conditions that Impact Balance

As we age, we sometimes develop foot deformities or conditions that cause impaired balance. Individuals with metabolic disease, inflammatory arthritis, and neurodegenerative disease have reduced balance as the conditions progress over time. Let’s look at some specific instances when balance can be affected and what the studies have shown can help reduce that.

Anyone with knee osteoarthritis will also have impaired balance. Shoe manufacturers recommend modified midsoles designed to take the pressure off the knees when walking. However, studies have shown that this type of modification isn’t any more effective than conventional walking shoes for people living with arthritis. So if you or your loved one has knee osteoarthritis, look at our recommendations for shoes that improve balance below. 

Foot ulcers caused by diabetes is another potential balance issue among the elderly. Regular footwear has been found to not be as effective in reducing ulcer relapse rates when compared to therapeutic shoes or insoles. Ulcers and other foot deformities may require special attachments for the best results. Ask your podiatrist what they recommend. 

Foot pain also increases the risk of falls among otherwise healthy seniors. Make sure you wear a comfortable, cushioned pair of shoes every day to reduce this cause of imbalance. 

Yet another condition that causes balance issues is plantar fasciitis syndrome. It changes the anteroposterior balance plane, leading to an increased risk for falls. Proper footwear can help reduce the chances of falls resulting from this situation. 

What to Look for When Buying Shoes for Elderly with Balance Problems

Balance is influenced by the shoe’s heel collar height and the hardness of the sole. Furthermore, the shoe’s tread and heel shape impact gait. Shoes that have soles that are harder than standard shoes were not found to improve walking stability. Neither did shoes with raised collars. The amount of tread didn’t seem to affect stability and balance for participants in one study as long as the shoe’s bottom was not smooth.

Wearing high heels changes a person’s walking pattern as well. These types of shoes shift the balance of your body mass forward adding extra stress to hip joints, knees, and the balls of your feet, increasing the risk of falls.

Sizing is important. About 75% of the aging community wear shoes that are not their size. Foot conditions and age cause the size and shape of the feet to change. As we get older, our feet tend to get wider, longer, and flatter. Factor in bunions, which affect about a third of the elderly population, hammertoes, and the wear and tear that comes with age, and you can see that taking care of your feet with properly fitted footwear should be the highest priority when it comes to fall prevention. 

The toe box of your shoes should be oval or rounded. If it is too narrow, the shoes can irritate bunions or cause pinched nerves or corns. Always make sure there is a fingertip length between the top of your toe and the end of the shoe. Choose a toe box that is both higher and wider than what you might have chosen when you were younger to accommodate the changes aging has made on your feet. 

Of course, you’ll still want something that looks nice. Women, especially, are particular about their shoes. Unfortunately, women get pain more often in the ball of the foot and their toes than men. This pain only worsens with age. This happens as the fat pads on the bottom of their feet thin out and absorbs less shock. When looking at shoes for senior women, it’s important to keep this in mind.

Shoe Recommendations

Studies show that low heels and slip-resistant soles that are firm and provide the maximum amount of floor contact are optimal shoes for the elderly with balance problems. Athletic or canvas sneakers have the least risk of falls among this population according to studies. Let’s take a look at a few specific categories when it comes to choosing the right shoes for the elderly with balance problems. 

Velcro Shoes for Seniors

Velcro has an advantage over buckles and shoelaces as shoes with this type of fastener are easier for an elderly person with reduced mobility to put on and take off. They also are easier to adjust to accommodate intermittent foot swelling. Additionally, there are no shoelaces to trip over. 

Skechers Men’s After Burn Memory Fit-Final Cut

These attractive black Skechers men’s dual-strap Velcro sneakers are made from a combination of leather and textiles with a synthetic sole for excellent traction. They have a lugged outsole and padded collar and tongue for added comfort. The insole is cushioned and provides support to the balls of the feet. 

The Velcro straps are easy to fasten and undo. The After-Burn Memory Fit-Final Cut is available in extra wide sizes to accommodate the elderly foot better. They are a medium weight, which helps with secure walking.


Propet Women’s Stability X Strap Sneaker

These Stability X Strap Sneakers from Propet are an excellent choice for women. They are made with double insoles with gel heel pads and a removable footbed to accommodate orthotics. The Velcro closure is easy to loosen and tighten. The top part of the shoe is made with brushed-nylon lining. The tongue and collar are padded for comfort. The outsole is made from durable rubber. 

The Stability X Strap Sneakers are available in half, extra wide and extra-extra wide sizes. You can choose from a solid black, light gray, or black/pink combination.

ShoePurchase Link
Skechers Men’s After Burn Memory Fit-Final CutAmazon
Propet Women’s Stability X Strap SneakerAmazon

Best Shoes to Improve Balance

Several health conditions cause balance problems among the elderly. Proper footwear can help with related balance issues. Soft-sole shoes cause impaired mediolateral balance control. Shoes with little back support like flip-flops, slippers, or sandals shift the center of your body mass back which can cause arch pain, Achilles tendon issues, and tendonitis.

For this reason, backless shoes and slippers are not recommended for senior citizens. However, we’ve found some suggestions that provide additional balance for those that need it.

Skechers Men’s Equalizer 3.0 Bluegate Loafer

Skechers also makes these lightweight men’s Equalizer 3.0 Bluegate Loafer designed to help with balance. The uppers are made from breathable mesh and have an air-cooled memory foam insole. They come in half and extra wide sizes and in four fashion colors, black, black/gray, navy, and charcoal. 


YHOON Women’s Walking Shoes

YHOON offers women’s walking shoes also known as sock sneakers. They come in a variety of fashionable colors and designs. The slip-on design makes them easily accessible. The upper has a breathable lightweight fly-woven fabric that easily accommodates swelling and bunions without pressure. The insole is air-cushioned. The outsole has traction to help with balance. They are also inexpensive so you can get a pair for every outfit!

ShoePurchase Link
Skechers Men’s Equalizer 3.0 Bluegate LoaferAmazon
YHOON Women’s Walking ShoesAmazon

Best Shoes for Seniors with Swollen Feet 

Remember, as we age, our feet widen. Certain health conditions also cause swelling. Additionally, bunions, corns, and other foot abnormalities mean that a proper fit is essential when it comes to getting your next pair of shoes. Take a look at our recommendations for the best shoes for seniors with swollen feet. 


Apis Mt. Emey Men

Apis Mt. Emey shoes have deeper and have a wider opening than typical shoes in order to better accommodate edema and other swelling issues. The inserts are removable so that custom orthotics can be used.

The 728-E in particular has a flexible elastic foam collar that expands and a seamless liner to reduce rubbing. The upper is crafted with padded Lycra and Napa leather with additional flexible areas on the medial and lateral sides. The outsole is constructed with EVA materials. This classic black shoe is available in sizes 5 to 17 with widths D, 4E, 6E, 10E, and 14E. It has a Velcro closure for easy on and off and further adjustability. 


Propet Women’s Onalee Mary Jane Flat

There’s no need to sacrifice style with the Propet Women’s Onalee Mary Jane Flats. These cute shoes are available in gray/black, solid black, gray/silver, red/silver, blue/silver, and beige. 

The upper is made with stretchable jersey fabric and has an elasticized collar. The PU and neoprene panels add a little extra stretch to accommodate swelling and other conditions. The heel cushion is made with EVA materials. The TravelTek outsole has a rubber/EVA construction with a deep tread pattern. 

These shoes have two sets of insoles. The bottom insole can be removed to add more volume. Both can be removed to accommodate custom orthotics. Propet Women’s Onalee Mary Jane Flats are eligible for reimbursement under the Medicare Therapeutic Shoes for Persons with Diabetes Benefit.

ShoePurchase Link
Apis Mt. Emey MenAmazon
Propet Women’s Onalee Mary Jane FlatAmazon

Best House Shoes for Elderly

As we mentioned previously, wearing socks or going barefoot around the house can increase the chances of a fall. Most slippers and sandals are inadequate because they don’t provide the right support. Even keeping them on your feet results in a shuffling gait. Here are some alternatives that are just right for house shoes for both men and women. 

MEJORMEN Men’s Slippers

These MEJORMEN men’s slippers are easy to take off and put on with two Velcro fastenings, on the heel and the top to accommodate swelling. The soles are rubber to reduce slipping. They are wider than most slippers as well. The inner padding goes from heel to toe for maximum shock absorption. They are lightweight and machine washable. These slippers are available in a variety of grey and black designs. 


Orthoshoes Women’s Diabetic Slippers

These slippers from Orthoshoes for women are a cinch to put on and take off. They have Velcro closures to accommodate for swelling. They are also extra wide and extra deep to reduce the pressure on hammertoes and bunions. The insoles are made from comfortable and flexible memory foam. The TPR outsoles reduce slipping. They are lightweight and come in different designs. 

ShoePurchase Link
MEJORMEN Men’s SlippersAmazon
Orthoshoes Women’s Diabetic SlippersAmazon

Best Shoes for Seniors Wrap Up

Proper footwear for seniors with balance problems should be fitted, not loose, and have a broad low heel. The insole and midsole should be firm but not exceedingly inflexible. The toe box should be well-fitting, which usually means wider and higher with a fingertip length of extra space. The outsole should have a sturdy but not excessive treat. The heel should be rounded. The shoe should fit snugly but not tightly around the ankle.

Finally, the shoes should be easy to take on and off, Velcro being the best option since the size can be adjusted for a good fit. Hopefully, you’ll be able to find a pair of shoes that are safe and attractive on our list and be out on the town in no time!

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