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Elements of Proper Footwear for Older Adults
Aging and common health conditions like diabetes, arthritis or swelling can cause changes in the older adult’s feet.  Most older people already suffer from a foot condition, knee, ankle or back pain and therefore need proper footwear to reduce the symptoms caused by these conditions.

Unsuitable shoes can affect balance and gait, and may play a role in increased falls.  Specifically designed shoes can adapt to their needs and make wearing shows safer, more comfortable and easier for an older adult. 

Characteristics to look for in footwear:

  1. Proper fit: Shoes that fit improperly are likely to cause pain, result in lower gait speed, shorter stride length, and a less regular gait pattern.
  2. Limited heel height: Causes pressure on the plantar forefoot, causing discomfort. They also cause and increase in knee torque, misalignment and back pain, and imbalance.
  3. Broad heel: Broad and bevelled heel may reduce the risk of slipping and falling.
  4. Firm insole: A hard shoe sole provides optimal stability, due to sensorial awareness of foot position. A thick, soft material may cause instability.  Insoles enhance better alignment of the joints in the feet, improving balance, facilitates long-distance walking, reduce foot pain.
  5. Sufficient tread: The tread needs to provide friction due to high risk of slipping.
  6. Higher collar: Beneficial for static balance and walking.
  7. Easy and effective closing mechanism: Increases the chance that shoes will be put on each day, instead of slippers or ill-fitting loose shoes.  Secures shoes for a proper fit.
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