As people get older, their bones and muscles weaken. This often makes it difficult for them to keep their balance while walking. Other factors affect walking in seniors. A few examples are arthritis, the reduced ability to focus on multiple activities simultaneously, and even blurred vision.
Unfortunately, these problems can result in falls. Falls lead to injuries, many of which are serious and life-threatening. This makes it extremely important to find the best walking shoes for seniors to improve safety and reduce the chance of a fall.
It is impossible to eliminate every single reason for a fall. Simple steps can help significantly increase the chances of preventing falls. According to recent studies, regular foot and ankle exercises by the elderly improve safety while walking. Wearing the right footwear at all times also plays an important role. Choosing the right shoes greatly reduces the chances of falls among the elderly.
Falls can cause serious injury and even death for seniors and the elderly. Here are the best shoes for the elderly to prevent falls and improve safety while walking around the house or community.
We all know that there are great benefits to walking every day for the young and old alike. So, use this guide to ensure walking is safe for you or the seniors.
Video Guide: Choosing the Best Walking Shoes for Seniors
Top 12 Shoes for Older Adults
Here are the details for each of the top picks above. I’ve included my ratings and why I rated the shoes the way I did. I also included a price list from some of the top retailers to help you find the best deal on your favorite!
1. Orthofeet Sprint / Verve Tie-Less Shoes for Men & Women
Orthofeet is a specialty shoe company that helps people with foot problems using unique and innovative technologies. Their shoes look like normal athletic/walking shoes but have several great features that help people with gait problems and walking difficulties. They even give you 60 days to make sure they work for you.
Orthofeet may not be a brand of shoes you have heard of before, but I recommend you take the time to learn more about them. Their shoes are designed specifically for older adults (or all ages) who suffer from foot pain due to arthritis, flat feet, gait deficits, neuropathy, balance problems, and more.
I recommend these sneakers because they look like normal “everyday” laced athletic shoes, BUT they actually use hook and loop straps (aka Velcro) and can be fastened from either side. So, you can adjust the fit if you also happen to have swelling in your feet. Plus, no constant bending over to tie your shoes which could help reduce the number of opportunities for a fall.
Orthofeet is known for its special Ortho-Cushion™ System soles/insoles, which provide older feet with cushioning to reduce the impact of feet constantly hitting the ground. This system is also springy enough to help propel the foot forward while walking, which helps people who drag their feet or have a shuffling gait.
These shoes even come with spacers that let you customize the shoe’s fit. Of course, seniors are much less likely to fall when wearing well-fitting shoes because extraneous movements of the feet are limited!
Orthofeet offers many styles of shoes, too, if you prefer more casual or dressier shoes. You can see all their styles here.
I’ve had requests from readers in the past to include “more fashionable” choices in my footwear recommendations for older adults. And, when Taos sent me a pair of their new Zipward shoes, I knew they were what some of you were looking for.
The Taos Zipward offers many fall reduction features without looking like “old people” shoes. These fashionable and sporty shoes have flexible non-slip soles and are lightweight and easy to walk in. Plus, they use a unique zipper closure that makes them very easy to put on and take off.
The shoes have a sporty, casual, almost minimal look to them. Also, nothing about them looks like they are just for older people or are something to be worn to help seniors walk more securely. But they do have many of the features that I recommend.
First, the outsoles are non-slip with a flexible and durable rubbery material. They are also thinner and lightweight. This helps people sense better where their feet are in space (called proprioception) when compared to thick, heavy, or “clunky” shoes, which can improve their walking safety. Actually, the entire shoe is lightweight, so even elderly people with weakness shouldn’t have any problems lifting them off the ground.
Next, there are no shoe strings or hook and loop (aka Velcro) straps to fool with. Simply slip your foot into the shoe and zip it closed – it’s that simple. Of course, this makes them easy to remove also.
Finally, the shoe is very comfortable due to the Taos Curves & Pods® footbed, which offers arch and metatarsal support. If you use special orthotics, this footbed is removable too. Also, the heel collar is padded, adding to their comfort.
One caution, though: if foot swelling or edema is a problem for you or the wearer, these shoes don’t offer much stretch because of their uppers. The closure isn’t adjustable, either. Other than that, this is a great shoe choice for older adults who want a good-looking casual shoe that is comfortable and easy to walk in.
3. Propet Tour Walker Stability Shoes for Women
Propet Tour Walker is a 100% leather sneaker that was made for women. It comes in many colors, including taupe, black, and a white/blue combination.
This shoe provides the wearer with great stability due to its high-density EVA midsoles. The shoes are very soft and flexible and tend to mold to the shape of the user’s feet as time passes.
The sole of the shoe is made of rubber and provides an excellent amount of traction. This applies to dry as well as wet surfaces. They are available in sizes from 5-12 and in a multitude of widths.
While these shoes are padded well to provide comfort, the area around the ankles and tongue is a bit thinner, which means less softness.
Two Velcro straps on these shoes make it easy for older adults to put on and remove them easily.
The soles have great grip but are a bit hard and noisy. This can pose a problem when walking in areas where one is supposed to be quiet.
These are considered diabetic walking shoes, but there is nothing to indicate this to anyone else, which is great for those who want to have comfort without being the center of attention.
4. Hush Puppies Gil Lightweight Shoes
Hushpuppies Gil is one of the many shoes that are great for older adults. They are comfortable, lightweight shoes that have excellent traction. You can walk confidently since the rubber sole has grips to prevent slippage when used on dry and wet surfaces.
While many may adore the Velcro straps that make it fairly simple to put on and take off, those with problems bending or gripping things may have some trouble with these.
The shoe is quite versatile and can be used in formal and casual situations. Multiple widths are available to accommodate those who need something narrower or wider than usual. Keep in mind that some who purchased the medium width noticed that it was a bit wide.
While this shoe is made of genuine leather, the sole is made of synthetic material. With that said, it does not detract from the benefits that can be gleaned from wearing these.
The show’s overall design is rather plain, but you can easily wear it with any outfit you have in mind. While they are not the cheapest shoes available on the market, they are durable and worth the investment.
Dr. Comfort Endurance (Men’s) / Spirit (Women’s) are shoes that were created for those with diabetes. It is a lightweight shoe with mesh, so it is breathable and flexible, allowing for great circulation.
These shoes are aesthetically pleasing. They look like typical athletic shoes, as opposed to therapeutic one.
The stretchy elastic laces don’t require tying. They also have a hook-and-loop strap that makes it easier to take them off and put them back on.
For comfort while walking, there is a padded lining that offers ultimate comfort. A replaceable gel insert is also included.
Users of this shoe report that they are true to size, and people who purchased them were impressed with the fit.
The shoe’s roomy toe box protects the feet from damage by providing lots of room to wiggle the toes.
The soles are not very long-lasting for those who do heavy walking regularly. Users complained of them appearing fairly worn after only a few months.
While they are soft and comfortable shoes, the soles make lots of noise when walking.
This is an ideal choice for those who have diabetes or others who can benefit from a comfortable shoe that is protective and stylish.
6. Propet Scandia Shoes – Classically Styled Men’s Dress Shoe
The Scandia line of shoes features a classic design in line with Propet’s design philosophy. Importantly, the Propet handcrafts the Scandia Strap, ensuring that every pair of shoes meets their demanding standards about quality. As such, you can expect this pair of shoes to endure the test of time while faithfully serving by providing comfortable shoes that are also stable.
The upper is made using supple full-grain leather with a soft mesh lining. Added to this are a thickly padded tongue and collar for comfort. Finally, the removable footbed has a Poliyou air insole to make this a very comfortable shoe.
The single strap closure is easy to use and allows for some adjustment for swelling.
This shoe also offers a lot of support with a firm heel counter. The polyurethane unit sole is designed for shock absorption, exceptional traction, and utmost durability.
The comfortable fit, ample traction, exceptional durability, impeccable stability, and above-standard ease of use make this brand of shoes the best choice for senior citizens looking for footwear.
The shoes have been designed to be functional while protecting the feet. As such, you can walk miles on end or stand for a long time without tiring your feet.
One thing you have to contend with is the bland style the shoes bear. Stylistically speaking, the Propet Scandia is just a basic brown dress shoe. But, you know, often that is what many senior men want in a shoe.
These are the best shoes to purchase if comfort, traction, durability, and ease of use are what you want. For instance, senior citizens will benefit immensely from a pair of these shoes owing to its combination of features
7. Skechers Go Walk Walking Shoes
Sketchers Go Walk 4 is a shoe that features responsive cushioning, adding some much-needed spring to each step. It is an easy-on shoe that does not feature any strings that need to be tied or Velcro straps that need to be adjusted. They are available in a wide variety of colors and styles.
While the sole has ample cushioning and provides users with a comfortable surface to walk on, it is not as durable as one would expect. Those who walk quite often may find that these shoes start to show moderate signs of wear in a relatively short time.
When purchasing this item, be mindful of the fact that they run a bit small. This means that those looking for a looser shoe need to buy at least one size larger than usual. In addition, they are a bit narrow, which could be a problem for those with wider feet and/or those who wear thicker socks.
If your feet tend to overheat and become uncomfortable when walking, these are an ideal choice since they are made with breathable mesh. Also, the footbed is lined with bamboo to prevent this shoe from holding in offensive odors.
Hushpuppies Power Walker is a shoe that was made for women who like to stay active while achieving maximum comfort. It is a leather shoe with a rubber sole that offers moderate traction. The treads are not very large, so navigating across wet, slippery surfaces could be tricky. While many feel that this shoe is true to size, others believe there is too much extra space around the toe area.
There are several colors available, including taupe, birch, and navy. They range in size from 5-12 and have multiple widths available. The simple aesthetics may put off those who like more fashionable shoes, but wearers whose main goal is to find a comfortable shoe will be pleased.
There are two models of Power Walker. The original Power Walker has strings and five eyelets for lacing. This style is a bit difficult for those who have moderate to severe arthritis and/or mobility issues.
The Power Walker II uses velcro straps which are easier for arthritic hands and swollen feet.
It does take a while to break them in after you have purchased them, but after a week or two of regular use, they should be fine. Those who wear orthotic inserts and arch supports would be very pleased with these since these shoes can accommodate them with ease.
Propet has been in the business of making comfortable walking shoes since 1985. Their products have become very popular with seniors who suffer from foot, ankle, and hip pain.
The Propet Lifewalker is designed with an athletic style in mind. It’s comfortable, breathable, and very supportive. It has a built-in heel stabilizer, a replaceable orthotic insert, and an EVA midsole.
It is also available in a shoelace tie version and a velcro closure option.
These shoes are particularly beneficial for seniors who suffer from diabetes. The Lifewalker line has been approved by Medicare thanks to the Therapeutic Shoe Bill. An exercise is an important tool for managing diabetes. The Propet Lifewalker makes walking a comfortable and pain-free exercise. And Medicare approval means it’s affordable even on a tight budget.
The combination of the EVA midsole and the firm heel counter creates a shoe with support and traction. The midsole’s ability to absorb shock reduces the impact on your feet while walking. The heel counter allows for a flexible degree of movement and also adds traction to the bottom of the shoe.
Propet Lifewalker has received some criticism for its durability. People who exercise for long periods each day may need to replace this shoe within the next six months. Most customers are so happy with the shoe that replacing them as needed isn’t a significant problem.
Overall, they are a great choice for people who suffer from foot pain or diabetes and want to start walking daily.
10. Propet TravelActiv Fashion Sneakers for Women
The Propet TravelActiv Mary Jane is a fashion sneaker, but this does not stop it from offering users a solid, comfortable walking experience. With a lightweight rubber sole, it will not place too much stress on the limbs of anyone wearing it.
This shoe is available in many colors, including black, honey, silver, white, and watermelon red.
Those with low arches and need support will find this shoe quite comfortable. Multiple widths are available, so those with narrow to very wide feet are accommodated.
One thing people may find an issue with would be the treads on the sole. While they provide a high level of traction, it is common for them to pick up pebbles and a large amount of mud, both of which can be tracked into the home.
It features a strap that is stretchy and easy to adjust, but some people have complained about the strap not being long enough to close without digging into the top of the foot. Many who have spent years wearing custom orthotics were very pleased with this shoe.
It provides all of the needed support while being comfortable enough to be worn for many hours at a time.
11. New Balance 577 Athletic Sneakers
The New Balance 577 shoe is a great shoe for seniors that is available for both men and women. They are only available in black, white, or tan, so those who like to have a range of colors will be disappointed. You also have the option of ties or velcro closure straps.
They are true to size, meaning that most people who have purchased these reported that they fit as expected. There are several widths available, from narrow to extra-wide, so most should be able to find the perfect fit.
This item features ABZORB technology, which is unique to New Balance. This provides soft cushioning with each step, and it absorbs errant energy and shock.
The midsole is made of polyurethane, which keeps the foot stable as the user walks.
The outside sole is made of durable rubber with good traction.
As far as weight, these are very light, so they will not add more strain to the legs and feet. This feature is essential for older adults who may experience issues with mobility.
When the shoes are new, they squeak a bit when users walk; however, this will cease over time. This should be so minimal within a few weeks that little to no sound is detected with each step.
12. Propet Daytona Breeze Sandals
Propet makes a point of manufacturing comfortable, high-quality walking shoes. The Propet Daytona/Breeze sandal is no exception to this rule.
It offers the comfort and style of a sandal with the support and traction of a full shoe. Finding a sandal with enough support becomes more and more difficult as you age. Many of today’s sandals place so much emphasis on style that they forget what is really important. Not the Daytona/Breeze.
The sandal upper is brown leather, and the inner sole is brown suede leather. The sandal’s outer sole is a black synthetic material with a slightly noticeable grain. Thus, the sandal has a very classic appearance, which is great for summer footwear.
The combination of materials used by Propet allows for a very durable and flexible sandal. The rubber outsole is specifically designed to provide improved traction. This design choice greatly reduces the risk of slipping and falling. The inside features a microfiber lining to improve comfort.
This is a great sandal for seniors who spend a lot of time on their feet and want to stay comfortable. It’s easy to slip on and off, thanks to the adjustable Velcro strap and hook. Though, some people have complained that the strap is not long enough when purchasing a wide-size sandal. Otherwise, it’s an excellent walking sandal for all-day wear.
Check out more sandal recommendations here.
Senior Shoe Buying Guide
How Does the Proper Footwear Help Seniors?
One of the biggest risks faced by seniors is being injured in a fall while walking. Seniors often get bruises, broken bones, and even head injuries due to a simple fall.
One common reason for the increased falls among seniors is the reduced sensation in their feet. Normal sensation usually lets us know when we are off-balance, so we correct ourselves.
Many elderly people have poor foot feeling and common problems like arthritis, foot pain, weakened muscles, and flat feet. These problems with the feet very easily throw the elderly off balance. And, sometimes, a fall is the result.
The proper shoes though help seniors improve their security while walking. They do this by improving balance and stability. In most cases, such shoes will have a non-slip sole to maintain contact with the ground.
They may also be fitted with a good orthopedic insert. These inserts offer ergonomic support to the feet and ankles without being uncomfortable. They are usually worn for several hours or even all day.
Another key feature of safe shoes for seniors is that they must be comfortable and easy to wear. If not, seniors will not wear them. Or they will fidget around trying to wear them every day.
Research, and common sense, clearly indicate that with the proper footwear, elderly people can significantly reduce the chances of falling down and harming themselves.
Important Features of the Best Walking Shoes
No shoes are 100% fall-proof. But, several factors can make a shoe less likely to cause a fall. Compare these to their other shoes.
When choosing safe shoes for the elderly, consider these points:
Non-slip and Shock Absorbent Soles
The most crucial feature to look for when choosing shoes for the elderly is a hard, slip-resistant sole.
- The sole must firmly grip the surface, even in wet, slippery conditions.
- A rugged, rough bottom will provide the right amount of grip while walking.
- Soles should also be shock-absorbing and light. This gives a softer impact on the ankles and the heels.
Comfortable to Wear
Safe shoes for seniors are also comfortable.
- They should not increase pain in the feet or lower legs. This is really important for people with blisters or tender skin conditions.
- The shoe’s material’s should allow the feet to breathe. This helps reduce irritation or itching due to heat. This is very important for people who wear their shoes for a long time.
High-backed and Good-fitting
Bad-fitting and worn-out shoes, flip-flops, or shoes without support for the back and the ankles (like some slippers) increase the risk of falls. These shoes tend to come loose.
Seniors should always wear well-fitting shoes. They should have a high back to give the ankle and heel lots of support.
Shoes are available in different toe widths. Seniors should generally wear broader shoes that allow better stability. Also, people with broad feet will feel comfortable with shoes with a wider, boxy front. Rounded, closed fronts are tighter and more restricting. This will give their toes enough wiggle space in the front. And they will not be cramped up in a small space all day.
Flats or Low Heels
Shoes with heels thicker than one inch can make the foot unstable. This may twist the ankle resulting in a fall. The heel, if any, should be less than an inch thick.
Shoes worn by the elderly should have a wide opening. This makes getting the feet in and out of the shoe easier. This is especially good for people who suffer from swelling of the feet or restricted mobility. Wide-mouthed shoes are also a bit roomier and more comfortable than regular shoes. They also allow for a little swelling.
Easy to Maintain
Most seniors like simple lives. When choosing a pair of shoes, try to buy ones that are stain-proof, dark-colored, and easy to clean. This will save a lot of time and energy. There is no reason for seniors to spend time unnecessarily cleaning off their shoes.
Laces vs. No Laces
Many seniors have a difficult time bending over to tie their shoelaces. This could also cause a loss of balance. Untied or loose shoelaces can also cause seniors to trip unexpectedly. A better option is Velcro closure shoes. These are easy to open and close. They can be put on and taken off with minimal energy. And no bending! Shoes with velcro closures also stay closed longer. They also don’t need as much adjustment throughout the day.
Soft, padded shoes will form a good, secure fit. They will also prevent bruising and abrasions caused by constant friction. This friction is usually felt at the back of the feet and the top of the foot. Such shoes are practical for elderly people with diabetes or swollen feet.
Well, those are my general suggestions on what seniors should look for when buying the best shoes to prevent a fall. I also recommend that older people should discuss their options with a doctor or podiatrist. This is especially important for people with diabetes.
Should a Senior Wear Their Shoes Tight or Loose?
Seniors should wear shoes that are neither too tight nor too loose.
According to Meredith Chandler, OTR/L, an Occupational Therapist, tight shoes can be uncomfortable and impede circulation, while loose shoes can be a tripping hazard and cause instability. The best fit should provide comfort and stability while allowing for adequate ventilation and room for toenail growth.
She states that tight shoes include improved stability and support for seniors with weak or compromised joints, as well as protection for feet with bunions and diabetic foot ulcers. However, tight shoes can be uncomfortable and cause pain due to restricted circulation and toenail growth.
On the other hand, loose shoes increase circulation for seniors with neuropathy, lymphedema, or other foot disorders, and more room for thicker socks during cold months. However, loose shoes can create a tripping hazard and cause instability during sit-to-stand transfers.
For seniors looking to find the best-fitting shoes, she recommends the following tips for seniors looking to get the perfect fit for their shoes:
- Consult with a professional specializing in orthopedic footwear for seniors, who can consider every aspect of the shoe and the wearer.
- Try out shoe brands that provide trial periods to ensure a good fit.
- Consider having different shoes for various mobility tasks throughout your day. For example, the shoes you wear around the house might differ from those you walk in for exercise.
- If you prefer to have different shoes for different tasks, consult with a professional about selecting multiple shoe models to meet your customized demands.
Tight shoes provide more support and stability, while loose shoes offer more ventilation and room for thicker socks. Ultimately, seniors should select a brand that provides them with a happy medium.
Do Smooth-Soled Shoes Prevent Falls?
Meredith says the answer to whether or not smooth-soled shoes prevent falls is a qualified “no.” Smooth-soled shoes are not suitable for all seniors, as their unique mobility needs and the surfaces they frequent need to be taken into account.
For short-distance walks, smooth-soled shoes may be suitable if they plan on transferring or walking on surfaces that already provide traction.
However, if they plan on walking or transferring on slick or outdoor surfaces, then they should look for a sole with a decent amount of traction, a wide sole and heel, and a flat sole and heel to create a larger base of support and prevent loss of balance.
Ultimately, the type of sole best for any given senior depends on their mobility needs and the surfaces they frequent.
Summary and Conclusion
When looking for the best shoes for the elderly to prevent falls, there are many factors to consider. You want to find a shoe that supports the foot. But, it also has to give enough to allow for swelling. The shoe should be able to adjust its fit throughout the day. There should also be room to accommodate your favorite orthotic insoles too.
To reduce the chance of falling, finding a shoe that is easy to take on and off is also important. But it also needs to stay securely fastened. If the elderly person wearing the shoe has to keep bending over to tie a shoe, that is an opportunity for a fall.
Tell me about your experiences buying safer shoes for the elderly. Do you have a particular shoe you recommend? What features were most important to you? Please share in the comments below.