Shoe Shopping for Seniors

Lately, a wide variety of options for buying shoes have become available. The options can be overwhelming, especially when feet are at their most sensitive ages. As we grow older our feet have had many experiences being worn down by hard work and bad shoes. At an older age, it is vitally important to get shoes that will make your feet feel good and not create further problems.

Here are a few tips for seniors who may be buying shoes or for anyone who needs help purchasing shoes for an older relative or friend:

Avoid high-heels. It’s important to most people to look their best, but as we get older women especially, have to face the fact that our feet have been crammed into high heels for too long. When the heel is elevated it drives the toes forward to the front of the shoe. While the toes are confined into a space that is too small it can cause the bones to deform, leading to bunions and hammertoes.

More importantly heels lead to falling, tripping, or stumbling. Older age means the ankles have begun to stiffen up, which can make it hard to stand on the support of such thin heels. High heels leave less surface touching the floor. If a shoe has a wide bass it gives more stability.

A general rule is the lower the heel and broader the sole of the shoe the less likely to take a fall.

Support your feet. Shoes that come up higher around the top of the foot and the ankle give more support. Look for shoes with laces or Velcro because they can be tightened to give more support and if swelling occurs they can be loosened to relieve pressure. Excellent. I really like the way this paragraph got to the down-and-dirty in no time.

Get measured. No one wants to have larger feet but even as we get older our feet do grow. The arch flattens, making feet longer and wider. Also the natural weight of our bodies over the years can cause your feet to spread just like wearing shoes that are too small can cause the bones to bend.

Remember, no matter what the Brannock devise (shoe measurer) says go by what feels most comfortable. No shoe is made exactly to scale but the devise provides your salesperson with a good starting point.

Go at the end of the day. Swelling can often occur and it is worse after we’ve been on our feet all day. Shoes that fit in the morning may become tight and uncomfortable by the end of the day.

Again, shoes that can be adjusted with Velcro or laces are best for changes in swelling.

Check the treads. Most times we assume that a deep tread prevents slipping. That can be true but as we get older it becomes more difficult to pick up our feet. In this case thick treads often get stuck on carpet and that can cause someone to lunge forward. There are even some brands today that make slicker soles for those that scuff their feet and use walkers. This allows them to slide their feet along the floor without worrying about getting the tread of the shoe caught in the carpet.

When trying on the shoes in the store, make sure to test them on both tile and carpet if possible. A smooth tread may be easy to maneuver on carpet but it may be too slick for smooth tile.

Know the brand. There are many brands that come highly recommended by people today, yet a brand that works for a younger person may not work for an older person. A few brands of shoes have become very popular for their arch support. While the shoes provide excellent arch support they can sometimes lack any cushion and are rather hard. With age comes the loss of the fat on the bottom of our feet, which can make shoes without cushion painful.

Things change. Even if we have worn the same style of shoe in the same brand for many years, the shoes should still be tried on. Companies can change the way they make shoes and there is always the possibility of human or machine errors that change the way a shoe feels. Also remember our feet are always changing.

Sizing. Shoes that have too much toe room at the front can cause the toe of the shoe to get caught on stairs or carpet. Most people prefer a finger’s width of space at the end of the shoe, but find your own comfort zone.

Having a wide base shoe is important, as well as having a shoe that is not too narrow. However, shoes that allow the feet to slide around inside the shoe, cause less stability. Try walking around in these shoes to see if your foot slides. Also feel the sides of your shoes for extra space or snugness. Asking the sales associate never hurts but no matter what trust your feet.
Above all, remember that feet are not the same size. Always accommodate the bigger of the two feet. There are heel, metatarsal and other such pads that can take up extra space in the other shoe. Although there may be occasions when leather shoes can be stretched to make one shoe larger than the other, it is best to fit the shoes as best you can before resorting to stretching.

Don’t break in. It’s nice to think that we can fit into a size but sometimes we just can’t. If a shoe feels tight, trying to break it in is not a good option. Some shoes will stretch or can be stretched somewhat. Usually only leather shoes can be stretched and often not enough if the shoe is painfully tight. Also it’s near impossible to stretch a shoe lengthwise.

It may feel a little tight now but as you wear it to “break it in” it’s only going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

If these tips still leave an overwhelming feeling the easiest step is finding an independent foot retailer that can provide individualized customer service.

Remember to check the stores return policy. If possible try to get the opportunity to wear the shoes around your home. This is especially important if given the task of buying shoes for someone else.

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