How To Choose The Proper Footwear To Prevent Falls

Certified Senior Advisor®
Senior Home Safety Specialist®
20 years of medical equipment experience
Compassionately helping seniors and their caregivers solve challenges of aging

Choosing the right footwear is a key way to reduce the chance of a fall. Learn what features are important, what types of shoes are best, and what shoes you should avoid.

Proper Footwear To Prevent Falls
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Feet and people’s mobility change as they get older. Some find their balance and mobility compromised. Choosing the right footwear for seniors is crucial: they provide support, stability, comfort, and prevent falls.

According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the most dangerous safety and health risk among senior citizens.

Choosing the wrong footwear can not only be damaging to the feet but can also increase the chances of falls and make existing foot problems common in seniors such as Arthritis and Morton’s Neuroma worse.

Many older adults often fall and hurt themselves because of foot problems and wearing the wrong shoes, which often leads to monumental consequences.

So, is there advice for seniors to help them shop for comfortable, stable, and stylish footwear? Yes, to help you choose the proper footwear to prevent falls, try to apply the following tips:

What Footwear Features Are Important for Preventing Falls?

When looking for the perfect type of shoe for your elderly loved one, you should know exactly what elements you are looking for. The footwear you opt for should be not only comfortable but also be able to prevent your senior loved one from falling.

Here is a list of vital features that you should consider when selecting a senior person’s footwear for fall prevention.

1. Sturdy Soles

For better stability, the footwear’s midsoles don’t need to be too flexible but sturdy. If a shoe is flexible and bends too easily, the chances are high that an elderly person will twist their ankle or foot and fall.

Shoes with stiff, sturdy soles tend to be more slip-resistant in comparison to light, flexible shoes. Go for shoes whose tread is intact and avoid shoes whose tread is worn out.

2. Shoe Size

Shoes for senior adults need to be a perfect fit. If a shoe fits a senior person well, they will be less likely to fall in it because they will be more stable and less likely to lose balance.

3. Closed Heels

Elderly people should wear closed-heeled footwear for better stability. Wearing close-heeled shoes ensures that the wearer’s foot doesn’t slide and slip within the shoe. This offers better stability and balance to the wearer.

4. Weight Of The Shoes

Seniors, particularly the frail ones, should wear lightweight shoes to minimize the possibility of falling under the shoes’ weight. Light footwear reduces shuffling, contributes to falling, and increases mobility.

5. Sole Design

The footwear’s sole shouldn’t be too smooth; neither should it be too rough. Soft soles are too slippery, while shoes with too much tread tend to grab at the surface, causing the wearer to stumble and fall.

The ideal shoe for seniors should have a slip-resistant sole and a tread but not too much tread.

6. Heel Size (Low Heels)

When choosing the right footwear for seniors, be very keen on the heel size. Low heeled shoes are the best for preventing falls because they contribute to an ideal posture, balance, and gait.

types of footwear best at preventing falls
Wearing the proper footwear for seniors is a key part of preventing falls.

What Types of Footwear Are Best at Preventing Falls?

Comfortable & Fitting

Comfortable and well-fitting shoes are the best for fall prevention in elderly people. Footwear that doesn’t fit properly, either too big or too small, causes imbalance and makes it difficult to walk.

If an elderly person wears shoes that too big, chances are their feet will move around within the shoe, causing the wearer to stumble and eventually fall.

Ensure that the shoes aren’t too tight or too loose. For the best fit, go for shoes with adjustable velcro straps or laces. Wide shoes offer more room and are more comfortable, particularly for seniors whose feet tend to swell.

Supportive & Sturdy

The ideal anti-slip shoes for seniors should have thin heels that make as much contact with the ground as possible for maximum stability and support while walking. Wearing shoes whose heels are more than one inch thick increases the likeliness of falling or twisting an ankle.

The footwear’s material should be flexible but sturdy enough to maintain its shape. High cut shoes are essential for supporting the ankles and heels. Apart from offering support and sturdiness, the shoes’ soles should be shock absorbent to minimize the force exerted on joints.

Slip Resistant Shoes

Footwear for senior adults should have nonskid soles to prevent slipping. A shoe whose sole has adequate grip should be able to prevent slipping in dry or wet conditions. If the sole is slippery, it’s time to get a new pair before someone falls or slips.

If it isn’t preferable to wear shoes inside the house, consider wearing non-slip socks. Because they’re lined with PVC, they offer an excellent grip to indoor floors and prevent slipping snd skidding.

Custom Made Shoes

Sometimes the best shoe might not be found in any shoe store. To find the right shoe for seniors, you might have to request custom made shoes. Age or health issues may cause changes in foot size. A podiatrist may recommend custom shoes for people with health problems.

Custom made shoes are perfect for fall prevention in elderly individuals because they have the recommended specifications and are prescribed by a doctor.

types of footwear seniors avoid
Wearing high heeled shoes can affect the balance of the elderly.

What Types of Footwear Should Seniors Avoid?

High Heeled Shoes

Wearing high heeled shoes can negatively affect the balance, posture, and manner of walking of elderly people. Put these three together, and there is a substantial risk of falling. For this reason, seniors should avoid high heeled shoes.

Open Heel Shoes

Elderly people should avoid wearing open heel shoes because they often cause the individual’s foot to slide within the shoe creating imbalance and instability.

Heavy Shoes

Heavy footwear is a problem for weak elderly individuals. Heavy shoes cause seniors to shuffle as they walk, increasing their chances of falling. The shoe’s heels shouldn’t be too thick because most of the time, the heel’s thickness contributes to the footwear’s weight.

Ill-Fitting Shoes

Wearing oversized shoes may contribute to an elderly person falling or losing balance because of the foot moving about inside the shoe.

Wearing extremely tight shoes can cause pain and discomfort, making every step a painful experience for the senior. Seniors should avoid ill-fitting shoes.

Slippery Footwear

Seniors should avoid slippery shoes at all costs because they risk rolling their ankles and falling.

Whether you’re on a quest for a comfy pair of house slippers or a sturdy set of anti-slip walking shoes, there are a variety of great options available. Armed with the information above, you can definitely find proper anti-slip footwear that works best for seniors.


Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Senior Home Safety Specialist (SHSS)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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