Believe it or not, one in three adults over age 65 has foot problems. These issues might be related to physical ailments, but sometimes they manifest because older people tend to hold onto their shoes long after the sturdiness and support has worn down. If your relative is wearing sneakers that neither of you can remember buying, it's probably time for an upgrade. Having the right footwear can help cut down on your loved one's risk of falls. Here's what you need to know.
1. The right size is key. It's important that your relative receives a professional shoe fitting when you go to buy new footwear, as shoes that are too small or big can cause foot problems and discomfort. Not to mention, feet usually get wider and longer with age, which means your relative's size may have changed.
2. When looking for shoes, focus on shock-absorption and weight. Your loved one will be better off wearing a shoe with plenty of cushion that lessens the impact of walking on hard surfaces – especially if he or she suffers from a condition like arthritis. Lightweight shoes are also a good idea, as they're more comfortable and will allow your loved one to lift his or her feet easily.
3. Go shoe shopping later in the day. As the day passes, feet usually swell up a bit, so you want to accommodate this growth when you're choosing a size. Also, make sure that there is at least a half-inch between the longest toe and the top of the shoe. Every toe should be capable of wiggling.
4. Non-skid soles are your loved one's best bet, as they'll help prevent slipping on slick surfaces like stairs, tiles or hardwood floors. Sneakers and athletic shoes are the ideal options, as they typically have plenty of grip and aren't flat – but make sure that they're not too extreme, as large rubber nubs can get caught in carpet or drag on the floor.
5. Look for shoes made with natural materials. Not only are these more flexible than man-made elements, but they allow feet to breathe, reducing skin irritations. It's also a good idea to find shoes with laces, which allow your relative to customize the fit of the shoe. Trim longer shoelaces to avoid a tripping hazard. If your loved one has dexterity issues, Velcro fastenings might be a better choice.
For peace of mind, consider getting a medical alarm system from Bay Alarm. With a medical alert, your loved one will be connected to an emergency response team at the push of a button in the event of a fall.