Everything Seniors Over 60 Need to Know About Footwear
Your feet are your primary mode of transportation, and your shoes play a significant role in providing a steady gait. Choosing proper footwear is contingent upon understanding all there is to know about aging feet.
As you age, your body goes through many changes, and your feet are no exception. Healthy feet are an essential component to a happy, healthy, productive life.
Many seniors deal with foot pain, making it difficult to perform daily tasks and almost impossible to participate in physical exercise. According to The College of Podiatry, “Pain and uncomfortable feet aren’t a natural part of growing old or something to ‘put up with.’ A lot can be done to improve comfort, relieve pain, and maintain mobility.”
There are some things you should know about your feet as you age. This information might help alleviate some of your foot pain, or maybe keep it from starting.
Understanding Your Aging Feet
The wear and tear on your feet is a big contributor to the changes and pain that develops as you get older.
The joints and skin on your feet suffer from years of use, causing foot pain and a thin, cracked covering that is susceptible to pain and infection.
The constant pressure placed on your feet can cause growth abnormalities or deposits to grow, also leading to foot pain.
How Your Feet Change as You Age and What You Can Do to Help
Uplifting Mobility pinpoints several ways your feet change as you get older. These changes can cause pain, but there are some things you can do to help.
After years of use and pressure, your feet spread out, causing them to increase in size.
- Measure your feet when you buy new shoes, so you get the proper size. Wearing shoes that fit a few years ago but don’t fit now can cause pain and lead to other foot problems.
You have over 30 joints in your feet, which degenerate with age causing pain, especially in the midfoot and big toe joints.
- Exercise such as walking, calf raises, or yoga can increase your flexibility and strength, which will ease the pain caused by arthritis.
Often caused by wearing heels or narrow-toed, tight-fitting shoes, the toes begin to curl downward, causing blisters, calluses, and corns on the joints.
- If you must wear heels or tight-fitting shoes, wear flats or tennis shoes during other times of the day to give your feet a break from the confinement.
As you age, the collagen and elastin in your body decreases causing the fat on the soles of your feet to thin, making it uncomfortable to stand for extended periods.
- Choosing shoes with cushioned insoles or adding gel pads to your shoes can provide extra comfort when you are on your feet.
Declining collagen production also causes your skin to dry out and begin cracking and peeling, which can be painful.
- Staying hydrated and using a good moisturizer in the morning and evening will help your skin stay soft and supple.
One of the most common foot problems experienced by seniors is a bony growth or misaligned bone at the base of the big toe, causing it to grow abnormally inward toward your small toes.
- Maintaining a healthy weight, and wearing pads can help ease the pain caused by bunions.
Calcium deposits, or heel spurs, are caused by excess pressure on the feet and are painful when walking or doing other strenuous exercises.
- Wearing heel pads or other supportive devices can help cushion heel spurs.
The ligaments in your feet and ankles stretch as you age, causing the arch to flatten, which is very painful.
- Inserts or orthotics placed in your shoes help raise the arch in your foot, which can alleviate the pain of having flat feet.
Proper Foot Care and Hygiene
Taking good care of your feet can not only prevent problems, but it can keep problems you might already have from getting any worse or maybe even help some of them disappear.
- Wash your feet daily, being sure to rinse well and dry them thoroughly, especially between the toes.
- Keep your toenails trimmed straight across and not too short.
- Apply moisturizer morning and night to prevent cracking and peeling.
- Wear clean socks every day.
- Change your socks during the day if your feet get sweaty or if they get wet.
- Keep your feet warm to help with proper circulation.
- Inspect your feet daily for cuts, blisters, bruises, etc…. and treat any problems accordingly.
Good and Not-So-Good Shoe Choices for Seniors
Often, shoes are chosen based on the ease of wearing. While house shoes, flip-flops, and slides are easy to get on and off, they don’t offer enough support to prevent pain, or the structure needed to aid in balance.
Sometimes shoes are chosen because they are “fashionable” or “will be perfect” for a specific occasion or outfit. We all want to look good, but as you age, there is a lot more to consider when choosing your footwear.
Sweating Seniors provides guidelines for the types of shoes that are good choices and not-so-good choices for seniors, suggesting that you choose your shoes with safety and proper fit in mind.
When picking your footwear, stay away from shoes that can increase the chance of falls:
- Loose and worn-out shoes flop around and fail to provide enough stability to prevent falls.
- Slip-on shoes do not provide the snug yet comfortable fit your feet need to prevent falls.
- Backless slippers can slip off while you’re walking.
- Slippery soled shoes can slide out from under you, causing a fall.
- Shoes with heels more than 1-inch high place stress on the balls of your feet by moving your weight forward.
- Flip-flops provide zero stability, move on their own, and are likely to cause a twisted ankle or fall.
- Narrow-heeled shoes create ankle roll and cause falls.
- Shoes with very thick soles diminish your feel of the surface you’re on and raise your center of gravity.
Instead, choose shoes that will reduce your risk of falling:
- Lace-up or Velcro-fastened shoes provide the most secure fit.
- Shoes with a collar to support your ankle.
- Non-slip soles made from hard rubber, not leather.
- A firm heel wrap that holds your heel in place.
- Shoes that have an insole that fits your foot.
- A well-padded tongue that protects the top of your foot.
Why Proper Footwear is Important for Seniors
If your feet have ever hurt, you understand how hard it is to walk and carry on with everyday activities.
We all know how scary and potentially life-altering a fall can be. Choosing shoes that fit well and give adequate support will aid in balance and help prevent falls.
Proper footwear can keep you active, which is a crucial component of a healthy lifestyle.
So, the next time you want to go for a walk with your grandkids or take a stroll with your significant other, lace up your walking shoes and step out in confidence. Confidence in knowing that your shoes will cushion your soles, protect your arches and ankles, and steady your step, preventing pain and the fear of falling.
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