Many seniors struggle to maintain their balance, so they must take good care of their feet and wear proper footwear to help reduce falls and injuries.
Falls are the main cause of injury for seniors. Most of these falls could be prevented with proper footwear that helps seniors with balance issues. Most falls result in hip injuries and head injuries. Many falls result in hospitalization.
What Are the Best Shoes for Elderly with Balance Problems?
Here are some great shoes for seniors to help with balance problems. Keep reading to learn more about important shoe features that can help steady your feet when walking.
Zeba - Revolutionary New Hands-Free Sneakers
Zeba’s fashionable sneakers are a great choice for seniors because of their patented no-tie system. Instead of dealing with fasteners, they slip right on even from a standing position.
This reduces the chance of you losing your balance because you won’t need to bend over to tie your shoes!
One main issue for seniors and shoes is leaning over or bending over to put them on. Many seniors can’t lean over or bend over without falling, even from a seated position.
This shoe is ideal as you don’t have to lean over or bend over to put this shoe on. It’s specifically designed to help seniors get them on without any difficulties.
Ideal for walking and jogging, these shoes have removable insoles and can also handle orthotic insoles.
If you’re looking for easy-to-wear shoes that you can readily put on and off, this may be what you’re looking for. Plenty of support for arches and ankles these shoes come in several styles.
These shoes are ideal for anyone who has back pain or is recovering from surgery too. Comfortable to wear and a firm non-slip surface ensure that there is less likelihood of losing balance and falling.
All shoes come with a 30-day money-back or exchange warranty so you’ll have plenty of time to see how they work for you.
Orthofeet specializes in shoes for people with foot problems using innovative technologies. These shoes look like normal athletic/walking shoes but have several features that are good for people with balance problems. You even get a 60-Day Wear Test to try them out.
Orthofeet may not be a brand you are familiar with but I really recommend you take the time to learn more about them. Their shoes are specially designed for people (of all ages really) who have problem foot pain from arthritis, diabetes, flat feet, neuropathy, and balance problems.
These sneakers look like normal everyday laced athletic shoes but they actually use hook and loop straps (aka Velcro) and can be fastened from either side. This also lets you adjust the fit if you also happen to have swelling in your feet.
Orthofeet is known for its innovative Ortho-Cushion™ System insoles which provide aging feet with cushioning to reduce impacts with the ground. This system is also springy enough to push the foot forward which helps people who drag their feet or have a shuffling gait.
These shoes help seniors with bad balance because there is no bending over to tie shoes. They also come with spacers to customize the fit of the shoe. And, seniors are less likely to fall when wearing well-fitting shoes.
Orthofeet offers all styles of shoes too if you prefer more casual or dressier shoe choices.
Skechers Go Walk 4 Walking Shoes for Men and Women
This lightweight walking shoe from a brand you are familiar with is easy to slip on and off and offers a supportive footbed for improved stability while walking. Machine washable too!
Available in a wide array of sizes, styles, and over 18 colors, this shoe is ideal for walking and daily wear. These reasonably priced shoes offer plenty of support and room for custom insoles too.
Easy to slip on and off you’ll appreciate how easy they are to put on from either a sitting or a standing position. Perfect for a walk across the room or a daily walk you’ll enjoy plenty of support and comfort all day long.
These shoes offer plenty of stretch over the top of the foot without being sloppy. A wide footbed and seamless construction make this ideal for those who are struggling with any issues such as bunions or corns making it important to find a shoe that doesn’t rub.
Lightweight rubber soles make this an easy-to-wear shoe that won’t make you feel like your feet are lifting weights.
While you can wash these shoes in a washing machine, it’s not recommended that you wash them often. Avoid the dryer as this can make the shoe wear out more quickly.
New Balance 577 Athletic Sneakers
Velcro closures make this shoe another winner. Velcro can easily be adjusted for full comfort. Reasonably priced, this shoe is available in 3 main colors and a full array of sizes including wide widths. Free shipping helps to round out the ideal shoe here.
Wearers will appreciate how easy this shoe is to put on and take off. While these shoes require the wearer to bend over to hook the velcro, it’s easy to do or have assistance with doing in order to ensure comfort.
A sturdy rubber sole offers plenty of balance for those who struggle with balance problems and shock absorption.
Leather uppers are easy to wipe off should they become dirty. Plenty of room for insoles or orthotics to be worn in one or both shoes is desired. All-day comfort at affordable prices makes these shoes an ideal choice for a stylish balance shoe.
Hush Puppies Gil Lightweight Shoes for Men
This is a casual, lightweight shoe with an adjustable fastener to address swelling. The insoles feature a unique technology that absorbs shock and reduces pain. Supportive and grippy outsoles reduce slips and falls and provide a steady step.
Hush Puppy fans unite! This is an ideal shoe that offers plenty of comfort and sass with a comfortable shoe that is classy for any situation.
Ideal for walking or relaxing, this shoe offers plenty of adjustability with a velcro closure. Available in two colors and an array of sizes, this shoe is on the higher end of prices but well worth the price.
A removable EVA footbed offers plenty of room for orthotics or other insoles in one or both shoes as desired. This is a lightweight shoe with plenty of support and cushioning which makes this an ideal shoe for walking as well as relaxing or looking sharp at a special event.
The nice thick sole helps to prevent loss of balance and ensure a safer walk. The only drawback to this shoe is that the wearer will have to either bend over to secure the velcro closing or require help with the velcro closing to ensure a comfortable fit.
Propet Olivia Adaptive Shoe for Women
This is an easy-to-wear slip-on leather shoe. It has adjustable straps for securing the shoe comfortably on the foot and a removable insole with custom orthotics. This is also approved by Medicare and recommended for diabetic patients.
This women’s shoe is available only in black however, it boasts all of the normal sizes including half-sizes and several widths. Velcro closure makes this ideal for a custom fit.
The only drawback is that the wearer may have to have help doing up the velcro as they will have to bend over.
This shoe offers an ideal rubber sole that helps to ensure a steady balance. The shoe offers plenty of room for insoles or orthotics as required. The comfortable lining helps to wick away moisture and help keep the feet dry all day long.
This is a Medicare-approved shoe ideal for diabetics. Seamless construction help to prevent any pressure points that will cause foot ulcers.
Priced on the higher end of the spectrum, this shoe boasts free shipping. Ideal for pronation and those who have swelling in the feet as the shoe will help to accommodate swelling and different-sized feet should the need arise.
With all-day comfort and perfect for casual wear, you can’t go wrong with this shoe.
SAS Walk Easy Shoes
This is a comfortable leather sneaker-style shoe. It’s Medicare-approved because it provides a cushioning system that addresses pressure points, contours, and stride support.
Available in five colors, and a full array of sizes and widths, this shoe offers plenty of great support. The main drawback of this shoe is that it is a tie shoe.
Many elderly struggle with dexterity due to arthritis. This is a diabetic Medicare-approved shoe that will offer plenty of comfort if these aren’t issues.
This shoe molds to the shape of your foot offering plenty of comforts. Plenty of room for orthotics and insoles this shoe may be worn with or without insoles.
A sturdy thick sole offers plenty of walking support. This shoe is considered to be a midweight shoe that may be a bit heavy for some who prefer a lighter-weight walking shoe.
Works well with dress clothes and casual wear. The SAS Walk Easy is a midline price at a steep discount currently. Ideal for those who have serious foot issues such as diabetes, swelling, and other health issues.
How to Use Footwear to Improve Balance
Here are some quick tips for establishing better balance by choosing the right shoes.
Shoes for Seniors Should Fit Snugly
Velcro or lace fasteners are ideal as they can allow the fit to be adjusted and customized for each foot.
It’s important to avoid any type of footwear that is loose-fitting, a flip-flop style, narrow heels, high heels, or ill-fitting. These types of shoes can easily cause seniors to lose their balance and fall.
Proper Footwear Maintains Continuous Contact With the Ground
Proper footwear to help with balance issues should maintain full contact with the walking surface. Shoes should have a flat or low heel that is wide. In the wintertime, shoes should also have a non-slip sole that will help to prevent falls.
Elderly People Should Always Wear Proper Footwear
It’s also important to remember that seniors should wear more than socks inside the home, proper footwear at all times will go far in helping seniors to maintain a proper balance and avoid potential falls.
If they don’t want to wear full shoes all the time, choose a safe pair of slippers for them to roam around in.
Shoes should also be lightweight and not too heavy for the senior to walk comfortably with.
Avoid High Heels, Flip Flops, and Other Open Shoes
High-heeled shoes, soles that are slippery, flat shoes such as flip flops, and shoes that don’t fit properly can all be reasons that seniors lose their balance and fall.
Add to these concerns long loose shoelaces and it’s easy to see why many seniors lose their balance and fall and injure themselves.
Address Foot Issues and Foot Pain
Other reasons that seniors tend to lose their balance more frequently and fall are foot pain or foot issues.
Some of these can be addressed by a podiatrist, others are simple care of the feet such as maintaining regular toenail trims, dealing with corns or calluses, dealing with bunions, and dealing with injuries or ulcers.
Regularly Exercise the Feet for Improved Circulation
It’s vital to maintain proper circulation in the feet and ankles by doing regular foot exercise on a daily basis. Just a few minutes of moving the toes up and down, and moving the ankles in circles can help to maintain proper circulation and help to reduce balance issues as well.
Of course, performing balance training exercises is another important way to improve a senior’s balance.
How Do Shoes Affect Your Balance?
There are two types of balance: static and dynamic. Static balance is when you are just standing there in a stationary position, and your feet are metaphorically glued to the floor.
Static balance is used when you’re standing at the sink to brush your teeth or shave your beard. Dynamic balance is when your body tries to maintain postural stability while on the move, during walking, running, side-stepping, etc.
When we’re little, our first steps are usually taken barefoot. Our feet make full contact with the ground, giving our body the input needed to maintain an upright posture for static and dynamic balance.
Once we slide those shoes on, that changes up the equation. Now our sensory system needs to get accustomed to having material on the bottom of the feet.
When we walk, we step with a heel-toe pattern. The heel hits first, followed by the blade and arch of our foot, then the balls of our feet, and lastly, our toes. When we have shoes on, this can change the pattern of our steps and affect our balance.
Can Shoes Actually Cause Balance Problems?
Yes! An ill-fitting shoe can cause major balance problems, especially in seniors who are susceptible to losing balance and falling. Here are a few examples:
- A shoe with too much arch support: If a shoe has too much arch support, this locks the foot into place, not allowing the small bones and ligaments of the feet to shift naturally. This means that the lower leg muscles aren’t doing as much work, and this can cause extraneous hip and low back pain. Pain is distracting enough to cause postural instability and loss of balance.
- A shoe with no arch support: A shoe that provides no arch support causes discomfort in the foot itself, leading to loss of balance.
- A shoe with a high or narrow heel: A shoe with a high heel or narrow heel places too much stress on the balls of the feet, which can be a source of bunions. This also decreases your base of support, increasing your risk for falls.
- Shoes with no heel strap: Flip flops, sandals, or slip-on shoes with no heel strap or ankle support can negatively impact your overall balance because now you have something loose and unstable to trip on with every step.
- Pronation versus supination shoes: Some people have relatively neutral feet, while others have feet that turn out (pronation) or turn in (supination). If you wear a shoe that doesn’t compensate for how your foot situates, this could compromise your balance.
- Too much cushion: A senior who is accustomed to wearing cushy shoes is not allowing their lower leg muscles the natural opportunity to work out while standing, which can lead to future balance problems.
Can Changing Shoes Improve Your Balance?
If you are wearing shoes that contribute to balance problems, you can definitely reverse those issues with a new pair of shoes.
However, you must also consider other medical factors affecting your balance. Examples include:
- Vertigo or other vestibular disorders
- Neurological conditions (MS, Parkinson’s, ALS, etc.)
- Balance disorders resulting from traumatic brain injury or stroke
- Paralysis or partial paralysis
- Circulatory or cardiovascular disorders
- Respiratory failure or other lung disorders
Multiple health-related factors can impact balance aside from muscle and nerve input from the body.
What Types of Shoes Help Seniors Maintain Their Balance?
If you want a shoe that helps older adults maintain their overall static and dynamic balance, consider the following features:
- A custom-fit shoe for neutral, pronation, or supination-positioned feet
- Wide heel with a flat shoe
- Sole with medium-grade traction
- In-sole with decent arch support
- Firm but comfy in-sole
- A shoe with proper toe, heel, and ankle support
- A shoe with excellent ventilation and circulation for the feet
How Should You Put on Shoes with Bad Balance?
If you are a senior who struggles with putting on shoes due to poor balance, consider implementing the following tips:
- Always sit in a supportive chair instead of standing while putting your shoes on. Consider using a chair with back support.
- Use a footstool to prop up your foot while sitting to prevent excessive bending.
- Consider wearing hands-free sneakers or supportive slip-on shoes.
- Try donning shoes with adaptive equipment, including a shoe horn, reacher, or dressing stick.
- Have a loved one or caregiver assist you when putting your shoes on.
For more tips that help seniors put on their shoes more easily, take a look at this guide.
Do Minimalist Shoes Improve Balance in Older Adults?
Recently, there have been two differing schools of thought regarding minimalist shoes for older adults. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons.
- Minimal material and less cushion mean that the lower leg muscles must do more work, improving seniors’ balance overall.
- Minimal material means more sensory contact with the floor, increasing overall postural stability.
- If a senior is not used to wearing minimalist shoes, this can cause excessive soreness in the feet and lower leg muscles.
- Prolonged use of minimalist shoes may contribute to heel and lower back pain.
Although minimalist shoes are extremely beneficial in developing muscles and enhancing the body’s natural capacities for balance, they are an adjustment for seniors who are used to wearing thickly cushioned shoes.
In summary, it can be done especially amongst seniors who are active. However, wearing minimalist shoes is a gradual adjustment.
Understanding how to select footwear for balance problems properly may take a bit of reading but it’s well worth the effort. It can greatly reduce falls and help to prevent injury to the elderly to choose the best shoes for the elderly with balance problems.
Always take the time to consider what type of shoe will best suit the elderly needs.
Not all elderly struggle with bending over to put shoes on and off, but for those who do you’ll want to help them to select a shoe that is not only easy to put on and take off but also offers them plenty of comfort for their daily footwear needs and requirements.
Shoes don’t have to be ugly to prevent balance problems.