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Best Shoes for Elderly to Prevent Falls and Promote Safer Walking

Summary (TL;DR):

Wearing the right shoes is an important "step" for preventing falls at home. You need a shoe that is both supportive and comfortable to wear. Here are the best shoes for elderly to prevent falls when walking.

Here are my Top Picks:

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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 at the same time, and even blurred vision.

Unfortunately, these problems can result in falls. Falls which lead to injuries many of which are serious and life-threatening. This makes it extremely important to find the best walking shoes for seniors for improved safety and to reduce the chance of a fall.

It is impossible to eliminate every single reason for a fall. Simple steps though 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 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 make sure walking is safe for you or the seniors in your life.

Video Guide: Choosing the Best Walking Shoes for Seniors

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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 as a result of a simple fall.

One common reason for the increased falls among seniors is the reduced sensation in their feet. Normal sensation usually allows us to know when we are off-balance and so we correct ourselves.

Many elderly people though have poor feeling in the feet and also 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 ankle without being uncomfortable. They are usually worn for several hours or even all day.

Other key features 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 indicates that with the right shoes, elderly people can significantly reduce the chances of falling down and harming themselves.


Important Features of the Best Walking Shoes

senior couple walking along a sidewalk in a park

No shoes are 100% fall-proof. But, there are several factors that 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 a 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.

Toe Width

Shoes are available in different toe-widths. Seniors should generally wear broader shoes which allow better stability. Also, people with broad feet will feel comfortable with shoes that have 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.

Wide-Mouthed

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 comfortable than regular shoes. They also allow for a little swelling.

Easy to Maintain

senior women running and chatting in the park with water bottles in their hands

Most seniors like simple lives. When choosing a pair of shoes, try and buy shoes that are stain-proof, dark colored and easy to wipe clean. This will save a lot of time and energy. There is no reason for seniors to spend time in the unnecessary cleaning of 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.

Adequate Padding

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.


OK, So Why Are There So Many Velcro Shoes for Seniors and the Elderly?

Aren’t velcro shoes for kids who can’t tie their own shoes? The answer to that question is a resounding “No!”. There are several important benefits that these shoes have for seniors.

First, shoes made with velcro fasteners are much easier and faster to put on than most other forms of shoes. Just slip them on, pull the fastener to your desired tightness, and go!

Aside from the ease of use, velcro shoes are also especially beneficial for elderly feet because they adjust to account for swelling. Elderly feet can easily get swollen, a condition known as edema, and it can make putting regular shoes on much more difficult and uncomfortable. Velcro shoes are almost totally adjustable, keeping comfort at the forefront of your shoe experience.

There are all kinds of velcro shoes out there to choose from, but many are made for specific medical conditions that many elderly people need addressed, like swelling, arthritis, diabetes, and more. Below are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for velcro shoes, as well as some suggestions for these specific conditions.


Reviews: Walking Shoes for Seniors

Here are the details for each of the top picks above. I’ve included my ratings and the reasons 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!

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 is a shoe that 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 they are offered in a multitude of different widths.

While these shoes are padded well in order to provide comfort, the area around the ankles and tongue is a bit thinner, which means less softness.

There are two Velcro straps on these shoes that make it very easy for older adults to put on and remove with ease.

The soles have great grip, but they 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.


Features

  • ZeroG Elon midsole and Rubberlon outsole for light weight
  • Stroebel construction for flexibility and comfort
  • Stroebel construction for flexibility and comfort

Hushpuppies Gil are one of the many shoes that are great for older adults. They are comfortable, lightweight shoes that have excellent traction. You can walk with confidence since the rubber sole have 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 who have problems bending or gripping things may have a bit of trouble with these.

The shoe is quite versatile and can be used in formal and casual situations. There are multiple widths 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 a synthetic material. With that said, it does not detract from the benefits that can be gleaned from wearing these.

The overall design of the show is rather plain, but this means that 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.


Features

  • Free pair of Gel Plus insoles included with purchase!
  • Sizes Available: 6 through 15
  • Widths Available: Medium (B/C/D), Wide (E/2E) and X-Wide (3E/4E)
  • These Shoes work great for a variety of foot conditions, including (but not limited to) Arch Support, Arthritis, Bunions, Diabetes, Flat feet, Hammertoes, Heel Pain, Neuropathy and Pronation
  • The Endurance is a part of the Dr. Comfort Athletic Collection

Dr Comfort Endurance (Men’s) / Spirit (Women’s) are shoes that were created for those with diabetes. It is a lightweight shoe that has mesh, so it is breathable and flexible, allowing for great circulation.

These shoes are aesthetically pleasing. They look like a typical athletic shoe, as opposed to one that is therapeutic.

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 which 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 roomy toe box of the shoe protect 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 on a regular basis. 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.


Features

  • Medicare/HCPCS code A5500 diabetic shoe
  • Size 5E is same as XX and size 3E is same as X
  • Padded collar and tongue with single strap closure

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 with regards to 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 makes 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, 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


Features

  • Radically lightweight ; Tapering midfoot design for improved arch support ; Side S logo
  • Bamboo lined footbed for anti bacterial odor control

Sketchers Go Walk 4 is a walking shoe that features responsive cushioning, which adds 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 foot bed is lined with bamboo to prevent this shoe from holding in offensive odors.


Features

  • Full grain leather uppers
  • Dri-Lex socklining for climate control
  • Removable molded footbed
  • Bounce Technology outsole is a dual density outosle that releases energy with each step by absorbing and redistributing shock
  • PDAC approved

Hushpuppies Power Walker is a shoe that was made for women who like to stay active while achieving the maximum comfort. It is a leather shoe that has a rubber sole that offers moderate traction. The treads are not very large, so it could be tricky navigating across wet, slippery surfaces. While many feel that this shoe is true to size, there are others who 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 they have multiple widths available. Those who like more fashionable shoes may be put off by the simple aesthetics, 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 5 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 are able to accommodate them with ease.


Features

  • Rocker profile
  • Padded collar and tongue. Built in contoured heel stabilizer with dual strap velcro closure
  • Adjustable hook-and-loop closure
  • Removable cushioned orthotic
  • EVA midsole with durable arch support

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 shoe lace 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. 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 create 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.


Features

  • Perforated fabric shoe featuring stretchy asymmetric Mary Jane strap with hook-and-loop closure
  • Removable footbed
  • Lightweight flexible outsole

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 who have low arches and are in need of support will find this shoe quite comfortable. There are multiple widths available, so those with narrow to very wide feet are accommodated.

One thing people may find 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 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.


Features

  • Padded collar and tongue
  • Walk-specific comfort footbed
  • ABZORB midsole cushioning
  • Walking Strike Path outsole
  • Polyurethane Midsole for stable cushioning

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 if colors available 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 is walking.

The outside sole is made of durable rubber with a good amount of 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 are walking; however, this will cease over time. Within a few weeks, this should be so minimal that little to no sound is detected with each step.


Features

  • Polyurethane sole
  • PU outsole provides cushion, traction and durable wear and walking comfort
  • Foam-padded footbed with microfiber sock lining

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.


The Propet Stability Walker is another excellent walking shoe manufactured by Propet USA. The 100 percent leather design and thick rubber sole allow for maximum comfort and stability while walking. This makes them an ideal choice for seniors who are interested in getting outside and walking more. The design is intentionally wide at the ball area of the foot and then more narrow toward the toes, which increases stability while being worn.

The Stability Walker uses a PU insole with cushioned ridges and a heel pad to improve comfort. The insole is particularly helpful for people with flat feet. However, you can easily remove the insole and use your own. The comfort and stability that this shoe provides can help people who suffer from ankle or knee pain. For example, if you’ve recently undergone knee surgery, then this walking shoe will make it much easier and safer to get around.

This shoe has very few limitations or flaws. It places a heavy focus on comfort and stability but lacks any significant style or flair. The women’s variations are not very feminine. Some people have also complained that the soles of the shoes were worn through within a few months of regular exercise.

This shoe comes in two closure styles – laces and velcro straps. Velcro makes the taking the shoe on and off much easier. But, laces get a much tighter fit for better stability.

Overall, it’s a great choice for seniors who want to increase their exercise level or who suffer from knee pain, but it may not stand the test of time for those who are seriously active on a daily basis.


The older we get the less time we want to spend putting on shoes and lacing them up. When you’re twenty, you can spend ten minutes bent over while you lace up your boots. But when you’re sixty, ten minutes spent bent over a shoe can cause a lot of back pain. That’s what makes the Propet Wash and Wear line of slip-on sneakers such a great choice for seniors.

This slip-on sneaker is more than just a novelty item. It’s a 100 percent leather shoe with an EVA midsole, a nylon-lined insole, and a neoprene stretch collar. The design is for more than just looks. It’s a walking shoe meant for people want to enjoy mild-to-moderate exercise on a daily basis.

The shoe does have somewhat of a flimsy appearance, but it is surprisingly durable. They come with a 1,000-mile guarantee! The flimsy appearance is simply because it’s made with a soft and lightweight leather. This causes it to have less of an impact on the foot and ankle as you walk long distances, but you’ll want to avoid the puddles. The bottom of the shoe has a multi-directional tread to provide the best possible traction while on the move.

The Wash & Wear line of shoes from Propet is available for men and women. It’s durable, lightweight, and very breathable. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer the same high degree of support that other shoes from Propet provide. It’s still a great shoe if you want to enjoy some exercise without dealing with the back pain associated with tying shoes over and over again.


BONUS: Simple Foot Care Tips to Prevent Falls

While choosing the right footwear is crucial to reducing the chances of falls, it is also important to follow a simple foot care routine to reduce pain and can further help to increase stability while walking. These include :

  • Dry your feet completely after a bath, as excessive dampness trapped between the toes can lead to fungus and infections.
  • Regularly apply moisturizer to the feet to keep the skin healthy.
  • Cut your toenails regularly with the right clippers, to ensure that there are no nicks or cuts.
  • Regular exercise for the feet will maintain toe and ankle strength and will improve balance.
  • Visit your podiatrist regularly to get the right treatment for foot problems.

Summary and Conclusion

When looking for the best shoes for elderly to prevent falls, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration. 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, it is also important to find a shoe that is easy to take on and off. 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 a shoe that is safer for the elderly. Do you have a particular shoe you recommend? What features were most important to you. Please share in the comments below.

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About Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®

Assistive Technology Professional, Custom Wheelchair Specialist, Medical Equipment Guru, Dad and Grandfather | I am a lucky dad to four awesome daughters and grandfather to three pretty terrific grandkids. When not working as a custom wheelchair specialist at a regional home medical equipment company, I enjoy early morning runs and occasional kayak trips. I am also a self-admitted nerd who loves anything from the 1980's.

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