Fall Prevention Information: Helping Seniors Keep Their Footing

Feb 25th, 2011 by John Almodovar | 4 Comments So Far

The right type of house shoe can really make a difference when it comes to preventing seniors from falling.  Not only do older adults have to account for comfort in their footwear, but also design aspects so that they’re less likely to slip, trip or stumble.

Falls and fall-related injuries are the leading cause of injury deaths among older adults.  Fall-related hip fractures account for approximately 25 percent of injury deaths among those over age 65, and 34 percent of injury deaths among those aged 85 or older.

— Moore, Jonathan DPM, MS. “Podiatry’s Vital Role in Fall Prevention-Part 1.” Podiatry Management. Jan. 2011: 99-112. Print.

Attention to a variety of factors should not be ignored such as footwear type, foot health, visual impairment, obstacles at home and consumed medication.  There are also various tests that can be performed by older adults in the presence of a foot health professional to determine the risks of falling, and depending on the results, plan a strategy for treatment.  If you’re a senior or know an older adult who is prone to falls, we recommend speaking to a foot health professional about treatment.

Seniors should avoid only wearing socks or stockings, walking barefoot, wearing high heels, or wearing footwear with slick outsole designs.  There’s a misconception that slippers are the best house shoes for seniors to wear.  Slippers may be the most comfortable, but depending on their design, may actually be the most dangerous.  There are numerous things to consider when selecting house shoes for seniors.  Below is a list of what to look for.

Footwear information for older adults that can reduce chances of falling:

  • Do not wear worn out shoes or footwear that is too flexible.  Look for shoes with midsoles that are sturdier and not too flexible to ensure better stability.
  • Size definitely matters when it comes to wearing properly fitted shoes – if shoes are too big they can be a burden to walk in – if they’re too small they can cause unwanted foot conditions such as calluses and corns, which could lead to foot pain when walking, increasing the risks of falling.
  • Open back footwear can be a bad choice because shoes without closed heel designs could cause instability due to an insecure fit.
  • Shoes that put patients too high can cause them to lose balance.  Avoid shoes with a ½” sole or bigger; and stay away from shoes with insoles that are padded too much (too much padding raises the wearer).
  • Heavy, thick soled shoes can be a problem for seniors even though they do provide stability – they may not always be the best.  Lightweight shoes are recommended because they’re easier to walk in, but make sure they’re not too flimsy or have too much flexibility at the midsole.
  • Sole tread design can also lead to falls – too smooth can cause slips, too much grip can cause trips.
  • The higher older adults are from the ground the more they are at risk of falling, so selecting shoes with low profiles, low heels and wider designs that have more contact with the ground are recommended.
  • Hook and loop closures are ideal because they tend to be easier to adjust for seniors, but they shouldn’t be left unattached as this could cause an improper fit, which could result in a fall.  Lace closures are also good if they’re tied securely to provide a comfortable, secure fit.

Recommended brands:

Please note: These brands are known to make quality shoes that are ideal for seniors to wear.   Please consult with a foot health professional for style and size recommendations.


About Author 

I'm a multimedia production specialist and web editor for HealthyFeetStore.com. I write about foot care and footwear related subjects to promote health from the feet the up.

4 Comments on “Fall Prevention Information: Helping Seniors Keep Their Footing”

  1. Kim said:

    Thanks !!! My Dad is diabetic and getting older. Any suggestions for diabetics ?

  2. Amanda Strouse said:

    Thanks for reading! If you look on the left side of our blog, under Categories, you can select “Diabetic Foot Care” and see all of our blog posts published about diabetic foot care facts and tips. If you have a specific question for us, feel free to ask any time! Or you can call and speak to our pedorthist during normal business hours PST: 1-866-324-3338.
    Thanks and hope this helps,

  3. paul furtaw said:

    the book the Family Guide to Trip and Fall Prevention by Paul Furtaw is now available on Kindle and other E readers.

  4. Every Journey Begins With One Step | Always Best Care, serving Boston - Metrowest said:

    […] the stairs a few more times than usual. Be sure Mom or Dad is wearing proper footwear (not slippers) and that there are no tripping […]