Older women might be subject to some good-natured joking around about the types of shoes they wear. You know the stereotypical styles that come to mind. Big, soft, and Velcro! We call them grandma shoes, much like we call the shoes older men wear as just “old man shoes.” But there are good reasons why shoes of this type are worn by seniors.
Humans have nearly 8000 nerves in our feet. It is no wonder then that we suffer from aching, painful feet at the end of a long day. An average American takes between 3000 and 4000 steps per day resulting in roughly 1.5 to 2 miles per day.
On the underside of our feet, we have natural fat pads, made from elastin and collagen. By the age of 40, this built-in padding begins to thin, and our feet become sore at the end of a day.
To combat this pain, we need to wear cushioned or padded shoes to compensate for the loss of natural padding in our feet. As we grow older, we also need to take into account other foot ailments such as corns, arthritis and bunions. Finding the correct pair of shoes can go a long way to relieving foot pain and getting you on the go again.
What to Look for in Good Grandma Shoes
When buying shoes for seniors it is important to look out for certain factors that will make the shoe practical, comfortable and stable. Here are some things to look for:
- Non-slip soles. This is probably the most important aspect of a shoe for seniors as a fall at this age can have huge health implications.
- Easy open and close fasteners. Seniors offer suffer from arthritis and other painful hand conditions which make tying laces and fastening buckles tricky. Find shoes that have Velcro straps or other easy to use fasteners.
- Wider openings. As senior’s often suffer from corns, bunions and swelling feet it is important to find a shoe that has a wide opening so the foot can be inserted without causing pain. Bending over can also become a challenge with age and thus a shoe that is easy to slip on is preferable. This will reduce the need for bending over while tugging and pulling a shoe which can cause loss of balance.
- Extra padding. As our feet lose their natural padding with age, it is important to find a shoe that offers padding to compensate for this loss.
- Beveled padding in the heel. When the foot slips around inside the shoe while walking it can cause inflammation and pain. Some shoes are fitted with a specialized beveled padding in the heel which prevents this movement.
- Removable insoles or space for added insoles. Some people need additional arch support beyond what an average shoe may offer. If this is the case, look for a shoe that has extra depth allowing for an orthotic or proprioceptive insole to be inserted. Alternatively find a shoe that has removable insoles which can be replaced with the specialized ones.
- Lightweight. Make sure the sure is not too heavy. A heavy shoe will tire an elderly walker unnecessarily.
Should You Consult a Podiatrist First?
A podiatrist is a ‘foot doctor.’ They treat almost any foot and ankle related problem from a broken ankle to an ingrown toenail. It is important to see a podiatrist if you have any concerns regarding the health of your feet.
As we grow older, the natural padding beneath our feet wears thin and thus after a long day on our feet we can experience pain and discomfort. This is normal and can be minimized by wearing the correct shoes. Should your issues go beyond some pain in the soles of your feet after standing for a length of time, it is a good idea to see a podiatrist.
It is recommended that we have a yearly checkup with a podiatrist to catch any foot issues early and thus prevent them from developing into serious issues that may have a negative impact on our lifestyle.
If you are diabetic, it is vitally important that you see a podiatrist at least once a year as diabetes can cause many foot-related complications such as bad circulation, nerve damage, ulcers and infection. In the worst-case scenarios, diabetic related foot complications have led to amputation of the foot. Early detection of problems is vital to preventing serious damage.
Here are some foot signs that indicate you should see a podiatrist.
- Numbness, pain or swelling in one foot. After a long day or long walk or run it is normal to have a little pain or swelling in your feet. The pain should be similar in both feet. If one foot suddenly pains or swells it could indicate something more serious and thus a trip to the podiatrist is recommended.
- Nail Fungus. Any form of fungus under the nail should be treated immediately as it can spread to other toenails and can cause pain, discoloring of the nail and thickening of the nail.
- Constant Heel Pain. It is normal for our feet to pain after extended time on our feet but this should subside as we take the pressure off them by resting. If the pain persists after a night’s rest, you should see a podiatrist.
- Joint Pain in the Foot or Ankle. If the pain persists it is best to see a podiatrist and receive a treatment plan. Joint pains seldom heal on their own.
- Broken or Sprained Foot or Ankle. If you suspect you may have broken or sprained your ankle or foot you should see a podiatrist. A podiatrist is qualified to deal with breaks and sprains and will recommend the best treatment plan to ensure you do not suffer complications and long-term pain in the future.
- Ingrown Toenail. These can be extremely painful and tend to become infected if left untreated. A podiatrist can administer anesthetic to ensure the process of removal is pain free. The doctor will also administer medication to combat any infection that may have crept in.
- Bunions. These are hard, bony lumps that develop on the outer side of the big toe joint. They can become painful and rather large if untreated. They can make wearing shoes painful and uncomfortable. A podiatrist will be able to treat bunions and save you from pain and discomfort.
- Corns. Corns are created by layers of thickened, dead skin. They can become painful and uncomfortable. A podiatrist can remove the dead skin and, with it, the pain.
- Athletes Foot. This is a common fungus and can usually be treated with over-the-counter antifungal medication. However, if you have a reoccurring case of athlete’s foot it is a good idea to see a podiatrist who will recommend a course of treatment that will rid you of the fungus for good.
8 Great Shoes Choices for Older Women
The following shoes are all available online at Amazon. If you have foot problems that require a podiatrist’s assessment, you are best suited to speak with the doctor first. A quality shoe store is another option as those standalone stores tend to have more knowledgeable staff than big department stores.
1 – Women’s Wide Width Shoe by Denacare
- WIDE WIDTH & EXTRA DEPTH: Sufficient volume with extended Width offers customized fit. Wide and roomy toe box eases pressure on the toe to offer comfortable fit. Extra depth design provides ample space for custom made Orthotics.
- ULTRALIGHT, FLEXIBLE & NON-SKID SOLE: Ultra lightweight, durable and flexible molded EVA(IP Material) sole which absorbs impacting shock and increases rebound, promotes a smoother transition to midstance and give an energetic feeling. Outsole bottom treads with extra grip offer superior slip resistance.
These shoes are ideal for women suffering from diabetic edema, plantar fasciitis, bunions, arthritis or swollen feet as they are wider than most shoes and thus do not constrict the foot causing pain. It also has extra depth to make room for specialized orthotics and the toe space is boxed to prevent any pressure on the toes.
The fastener is easy and quick to use, even for sore hands. The material is breathable and stretchy adding extra comfort. The sole is lightweight but firm enough to offer support and stability. The under sole is fitted with a non-slip grip and the mid sole has an air cushion which absorbs shock. The memory foam insole reduces pressure on the feet and thus reduces pain. An extra two high cushioned insoles are provided for those who do not have specialized orthotics. These shoes are stylish, comfortable, stable and easy to use.
2 – Sillian Bella Mary Jane Flats by Clarks
- Cloud steppers
- Cushion soft
These stylish Mary Janes are the latest is Clark’s cloud steppers collection and come in four colors: black, brown, navy and sand. Their easy fastener and wide opening make them easy to put on and take off. The rubber sole is flexible, lightweight and non-slip. They are fitted with an Ortholite foot bed and have extra soft padding inside.
The Clarks signature cloud stepper technology ensures comfort with every step. The cloud stepper range have 3 layers of foam: high density for cushioning, Eva midsole for shock absorption and a soft memory foam top layer which bounces back with every step.
3 – Skechers Women’s Go Walk Joy Walking Shoe
- Lightweight and flexible
- Responsive 5Gen cushioning
These shoes are easy to slip on. The fabric is breathable and light. The sole is non-slip and flexible as well as lightweight. They come in an array of stylish colors. They are fitted with 5Gen cushioning to add support and comfort. With these shoes you will be walking in style and comfort with the security of knowing your feet are stable.
4 – New Balance 577 V1 Walking Shoe
- Abzorb cushioning in the heel for exceptional shock absorption
- Leather upper
This is the best shoe if you are looking for stability and fall prevention. It has a hook and loop fastener making it easy to get on and off. It comes in an assortment of neutral colors and is fitted with an abzorb cushioning in the heel for shock absorption. It has a polyurethane midsole for stable cushioning and a non-slip rubber sole. It may be eligible for Medicare reimbursement.
5 – Prope’t PedWalker Shoes
- Loaded with style and comfort, the PedWalker 3 is designed to keep you and your feet happy all day long.
- Smooth supple full grain leather & stretchable neoprene uppers.
These sturdy, comfortable shoes are specially designed to make walking comfortable and secure. It has double depth soles allowing you to fit specialized orthotic insoles if you wish. It has a single strap closure system making getting them on and off easy. The under sole is lightweight and non-slip. The midsole is air infused for added comfort. They are Medicare-approved and A5500 coded.
6 – Jambu Blossom Encore Mary Jane Flat
- Slip on/ adjustable velcro strap
- Partially recycled rubber- all terra outsole
This delicate sandal is deceptively robust and comfortable. The all terra rubber sole is flexible and non-slip. They are easy to slip on and have an adjustable Velcro strap making putting them on and off as easy as pie. The memory foam insoles relieve pressure in the foot and add comfort. The stitched flower pattern adds a touch of feminine charm to this practical and comfortable shoe.
7 – Finn Comfort Gomera
If you are looking for an open shoe that offers support and comfortable padding then the Gomera by Finn is the way to go. They are 100% leather and come in an array of neutral colors. They feature the Finn Comfort Soft footbed, which provides a cloud-like feel.
The insoles are covered in a soft suede which helps draw out unwanted moisture keeping feet healthy and dry. They fasten with three hook and loop straps over the top of the foot and an adjustable back strap fitted with a buckle. The back strap offers support and ensures you do not fall due to your shoe slipping off your foot.
8 – Vionic Women’s Amber Sandals
This sandal from Vionic also offers style while providing support and comfort. The versatile style means it can be worn on a variety of occasions and comes in an assortment of colors. Three Velcro straps make it easy to put on and take off. An adjustable back strap provides support and ensures a snug fit. The man-made or natural cork upper keeps your foot healthy and dry. It provides ultimate arch support and has received the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance.
Walk with Confidence
Choosing the best shoe for your needs is not only a gift to your feet but to your whole wellbeing. As we spend so much of our time on our feet it follows that we should be putting both time and money into finding the correct shoe.
If balance is an issue, proper footwear is just part of the solution. You also need to stay as fit and active as possible. Consider enrolling in a Matter of Balance class, or some similar activity. Use it or lose it is true, particularly as we age.