Is Memory Foam Good for an Older Adult’s Feet?

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Memory foam offers increased comfort and pressure relief to the feet. Keep reading as we discuss in depth whether or not memory foam is good for an older adult’s feet.

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Is memory foam good for an older adult's feet

Memory foam is polyurethane combined with other chemicals that provide a structure that easily molds to the unique contours of your body.

This is why memory foam is popular in products like mattresses and shoes, to add increased comfort with prolonged use. However, how beneficial is memory foam for feet, especially in older adults?

Memory foam insoles can be a great choice for older adults’ feet because the right memory foam insoles provide comfort, assist with balance, and provide excellent shock absorption for aging joints.

However, the wrong memory foam insoles won’t breathe, make your shoes feel too tight, and increase your chance of an ankle injury.

This article discusses the pros and cons of memory foam insoles, whether or not seniors should wear shoes with memory foam, and what types of insoles are best for older adults.

pros and cons of memory foam insoles for seniors
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Pros of Memory Foam Insoles

If you think about memory foam insoles as body-contouring mattresses for your feet, you can see their appeal.

Memory foam conforms to your foot’s natural and unique structures, while other insoles attempt a “one size fits all” approach.

Here are a few upsides to wearing memory foam insoles:

  • Many memory foam insoles provide a shock-absorbent heel, taking a lot of weight distribution off your knees and hips with mobility.
  • Memory foam conforms to your foot, providing sufficient arch support and reducing pain in the tiny foot joints.
  • Memory foam offers a lot of pressure relief, especially in the balls of your feet.
  • Conforming to your feet can offer security and balance to your postural stability.

Cons of Memory Foam Insoles

Now, let’s look at some potential downsides to wearing memory foam insoles:

  • Some memory foam products don’t breathe well. This means your shoe will retain heat, causing the shoes to become stinky, sweaty, and uncomfortable.
  • Although the heel is shock absorbent, some heels are too cushy and don’t offer the ankle enough support. Some seniors may feel like they are going to roll or sprain an ankle with every step.
  • Cheaper memory foam products break down fast.
  • Some seniors don’t like the sensation of an insole hugging their foot or locking their foot into position.
  • Memory foam inserts can make your footwear feel very tight.

Should Seniors and Elderly Wear Shoes with Memory Foam?

The golden and most annoying answer is: it depends. Memory foam can be an extremely comfortable option for many seniors who are unhappy with their current footwear.

However, seniors should be very selective about the memory foam product they purchase for their shoes to optimize their comfort and overall balance.

If you choose memory foam insoles, consider the following qualities:

  • Invest in memory foam insoles that may cost a little extra money but will last you in the long run.
  • Insoles should provide shock-absorbent and firm heels so that you don’t feel like you’re sliding everywhere in your own shoes.
  • Research memory foam insoles that breathe or offer cooling features. If you can’t locate the ones you’re pleased with, just know that you’ll need to allow time for your shoes to air out between uses.
  • Make sure the memory foam insole fits appropriately in your shoe without making your footwear too tight.

What Types of Insoles Are Best for Older Adults?

Selecting the right insoles should be just as important as the rest of the shoe.

Whether you decide on memory foam insoles or not, consider some of the following tips when purchasing insoles for regular footwear:

  • Choose insoles that match your mobility routine. For example, you will not buy expensive running-style insoles if you spend most of your day in a recliner. You may select insoles that provide your feet some love while walking around your home. 
  • Find insoles that provide you with decent arch and heel support that don’t make you feel like you’re rolling around in your shoes.
  • Insoles should breathe to prevent unwanted stench and risk of fungal infection.
  • Select insoles that aren’t too thick that would make your shoes tight and compromise circulation to your feet.
  • Insoles should be high enough quality to last without breaking down after a few weeks of use.
  • Insoles should contribute to your balance and postural stability. Find insoles that match your stance (pronation, supination, neutral foot position). You may have to go to an orthopedic foot specialist if you think you have “wonky” feet.
  • Find insoles that fit you in comfort, style, personality, and daily routine. Don’t get caught up in the social media crazes and make purchases based on what the world tells you to do.

Summary and Final Recommendations

Memory foam insoles have their place among the senior population. The right memory foam insoles provide comfort, contribute to balance, and provide excellent shock absorption.

The wrong memory foam insoles don’t breathe, make shoes feel way too tight, and increase your risk of an ankle injury.

Be choosy when purchasing and wearing memory insoles— choose insoles based on your unique needs and daily mobility routine.

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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