Are Birkenstocks Good for Elderly People? (What A Therapist Says)

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Birkenstocks are a popular shoe brand worldwide and are known for its style and comfort. So an occupational therapist answers the question: Are Birkenstocks good for elderly people?

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Birkenstocks Good for Elderly

No matter the age, many elderly folks prioritize fashion and still want to look good despite their amazing efforts to prevent falls and stay active.

Birkenstocks®* are a popular shoe brand for adults of all ages, but they hold a special place in the hearts of many seniors. Let’s take a closer look at Birkenstock shoes and see if these kicks are really as good as they say for the older population.

This article will discuss the pros and cons of Birkenstocks, whether seniors/older people should be wearing Birkenstocks or not, and some recommendations regarding positive features to look for in Birkenstock shoes. 

Pros of Birkenstocks

If you google “Birkenstock,” you’ll easily get flooded with nothing but good things to say about the product. Birkenstock is a fashion investment that comes with many perks, including:

  • Thick, firm, and long-lasting soles
  • Moldable foot inserts for enhanced comfort
  • Comes in multiple colors, patterns, makes, and models
  • Provides good shock absorption and arch support
  • Features are built to last so that customers can get many miles out of their kicks

Cons/Dangers of Birkenstocks

Although thick shoes with extra cushion may sound appealing for the ailing foot or for seniors who are on their feet nearly all day, there are a few downsides. Additionally, there are a few other things to consider before buying Birkenstocks shoes:

  • As we’ve said, Birkenstock shoes are an investment, meaning most makes are expensive.
  • Too much arch and foot support may cause unnecessary back and hip pain.
  • Birkenstock sandals provide no heel and toe coverage, which is dangerous for elderly folks with diabetic foot neuropathy or other medical conditions where they should protect their feet.
  • Birkenstock sandals (or any sandals) can cause a tripping hazard since part of the sole is not secured to the foot. 
  • Many Birkenstock shoes are not waterproof, so bathroom use may be out of the question. 
Birkenstocks good for elderly wear
Depending on your elderly’s podiatric needs, Birkenstocks® may or may not be suitable for them.

Should Seniors/Elderly People Wear Birkenstocks?

This highly depends on the wearer and their unique podiatric needs. They say no “one size fits all” for many things in life, especially for seniors/elderly people and their shoes.

If you try out Birkenstocks and fall absolutely in love with them, then good for you! Here are some important features to consider to keep your feet comfortable and to keep yourself off the ground and standing upright:

  • Select a shoe that protects your toes and heel.
  • Avoid a shoe with an excessive heel, as this can increase back and hip pain and increase your risk for bunions and falls.
  • Although foot support is good, try to find a shoe that doesn’t provide too much arch and foot support. A shoe that locks your foot into one position may contribute to additional joint back throughout your back, legs, and hips. 
  • DON’T BUY SANDALS. If you want to stay off the floor and enjoy your regular walks, invest in a shoe that will adhere well to your foot.
  • Select a shoe that fits your foot well in width and length. 

Look closely into Birkenstock shoe return policies before purchasing your shoes, especially shoes that are on-sale or retail priced. That way, if you get shoes you don’t like or don’t feel comfortable in, you can return them or switch them for something different. 

Are Birkenstocks Considered Orthopedic Shoes?

Although Birkenstock shoes are advertised as having “orthopedic” insoles, these shoes are not officially considered orthopedic shoes.

Birkenstocks are fashion designer shoes with orthopedic-like qualities. Any orthopedic footwear must be prefabricated, custom-fit, and approved by an actual orthopedic specialist. 

RELATED: Easy Slip-On Shoes for the Elderly: No Ties or Straps!

Summary and Final Recommendations

Birkenstock is a trendy, fashionable shoe that comes with many benefits relevant to seniors’ and elderly adults’ needs. The firm sole and solid material provide long-lasting support and excellent bang for your buck.

However, like any shoe, Birkenstock is not for everyone. These particular shoes are expensive, may be too supportive for feet, and can be a major tripping hazard in sandal form.

If you decide to go with Birkenstock, make sure it’s something you love and a shoe that provides you with all-day comfort.

Elderly people who may need to avoid fashion designer shoes include those with any medical conditions of the feet, including but not limited to:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Bunions
  • Fractures
  • Lymphedema
  • Diabetic foot ulcers
  • Neuropathy

Consult with your physician or podiatrist to see if you could benefit from Birkenstock ® shoes or if a custom-fit orthopedic shoe would be a better option for your mobility needs.

* Birkenstock® is a registered trademark of Birkenstock USA and has no affiliation with Graying With Grace

Meredith Chandler, OTR/L

Registered/Licensed Occupational Therapist

Meredith has worked as an occupational therapist for 9 years and as a content writer for 6 years. She primarily works with the geriatric population, focusing on their rehabilitative needs and instructing caregivers and family members for home care. Her specialties include ADL training, neurological re-education, functional mobility training, adaptive equipment education, and wheelchair assessment and mobility training. She is a painter, a musician, and a mother of 4 who loves spending time with her family,

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