Footwear that is comfortable and practical is very important for a person of any age. As we get older, however, mobility generally becomes more difficult, so good quality footwear is a must. Accidents caused by poor mobility can have serious implications and cause injuries and other health complications. As we age, a number of changes occur to our feet. Therefore, when we try to decide on a good quality shoe for an elderly loved one, it is imperative that we take these changes into account.
Changes in Feet Caused by Aging
The aging process in general reduces collagen production in our bodies. This means that less fat is produced, and the fat we are left with is dispersed to the most important areas (protecting the heart, for example). As a result, the fat that cushions the soles of our feet slowly becomes less and less over time as we get older. The part of the foot that is most affected by this change in physiology is usually the heel of the foot, so take extra care to choose shoes that support the heel.
Each foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. Aging reduces strength of bones, which naturally lose density over time. The general composition of the foot means that it is a complex structure, with many working parts. Imperfections in any singular part can affect the whole. Thus, because it is more common for the elderly to have problems with bones, joints and muscles than younger age groups, the feet are generally weaker. Choosing a shoe that helps to strengthen and support the foot is key.
Best Shoes for Your Elderly Loved One
Did you know that three out of four elderly people wear shoes that are too small for their feet? Badly chosen shoes not only make feet problems worse, they can create problems that weren’t there in the first place. Elderly people should choose shoes that are practical and comfortable. Shoes that are too narrow, shoes with high heels (particularly if the heels are thin, like stilettos), and shoes with slippery soles, are all choices that are not suitable and could increase the likeliness and frequency of an accident. Here are some tips to help you choose the best shoes for your elderly loved one:
Even if the shoes claim to be comfortable and protective, soles are key to choosing a shoe for the elderly. You might think a pair of athletic shoes will cushion the feet effectively, but if you choose a pair that doesn’t have textured soles, you’re already increasing the risk of an accident. Any shoes that have a smooth sole are not recommended, because smooth soles can be very slippery and dangerous for an elderly person.
Size is incredibly important, especially when you consider the fact that too many people wear shoes that are too small. Did you know that feet can change size over time? We often assume that feet only grow until we are adult, but in reality feet can become longer and wider as you age. If you’re out shopping for a pair of shoes for your elderly relative, it’s recommended that you take them with you. If, however, it’s a surprise gift, check out the size in their closet and aim to go for half a shoe size higher. If you really want to ensure they have the best shoe, surprise them with something else, because there really is no better alternative than bringing them along with you so you can test how the shoe fits. Length is the first thing we think of when we consider shoe size, but just make sure the width is comfortable too. Feet often stretch and widen as we get older, and shoes that are too narrow can cause just as much discomfort or damage as shoes that are too small. Many shoe outlets now provide options for wider feet. If you’re in doubt, consult the professionals in the shoe store when your relative is trying on different options in order to ensure both the length and width are suitable.
Choose good-quality materials that allow for a bit of stretch so that the shoe can gradually shape itself to your loved one’s foot over time. Our posture and gait can affect the way our shoes wear, and you can tell how a person walks just by looking at the wear and tear on their shoe, so make sure that the material you choose isn’t restrictive.
Take Care of Your Loved One
Footwear is only one of many considerations when it comes to taking care of your loved one. For example, nutrition for the elderly is very important. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can improve a person’s quality of life and prevent a range of diseases including diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease. A healthy diet includes a well-balanced mix of vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates. Foods that should generally be avoided by the elderly include saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, and sodium.
As well as dietary considerations, the elderly often have to take medication. The importance of proper medication management cannot be underestimated. Medication can be difficult to keep track of, particularly if you’re required to take a variety of prescription drugs, so concerned family members should do whatever they can to help organize efficient medication management.
Resident Centered Care
Looking after your loved one, whether they are living at home or taking advantage of assisted living, is a great way of showing your aging relative that you care about their quality of life. Assisted living facilities may be the best option for your loved one, particularly if they require extra care. Luckily, professional services nowadays often center around the resident. Resident-centered care, or resident life in a facility that offers a high quality of life, can provide a wonderfully tranquil and comfortable environment for your loved one.