The right footwear can help stop seniors having a fall

Falls are common in older people and they can be prevented.

Unsafe footwear greatly contributes to the risk of falling. Inappropriate footwear, such as high heels or shoes that are too tight or too heavy, can make the foot or ankle unstable. It can also cause or worsen corns, bunions or other painful conditions, which have been shown to increase a senior’s risk of falling as well.

Your feet change size and shape

As people become older, they often need larger or wider footwear every few years.

 Recent studies suggest that 75% of seniors are walking around in shoes that are too small for their feet. In addition, seniors frequently have medical conditions that affect the size and shape of their feet.


Features of safe shoes and slippers for seniors
  • Hard rubber non-slip soles
  • Supportive insole
  • Roomy toe box
  • Easy to slip on and off
  • Enclosed heel
  • Proper fit
  • Comfortable

Melbourne-based Foot Centre Group say the fit of a shoe should be a senior’s main aim. If the shoe does not fit well, it can cause various problems and pathologies over time. The fit should take into consideration; the size of the shoe, the width, depth and length of the toe box, the fit around the ankle, as well as the midfoot.

Shoes also should be supportive. It will have will have a strong heel counter, flexibility where the toes bend and a sturdy sole through the midfoot. These features will help to support and protect the foot from potential injuries.

When considering footwear for the elderly, stable shoes are imperative for prevention of falls. A shoe that is too high or has a rocker bottom may be too unstable for someone with a falls risk.

The aging foot may experience an ailment referred to as fat pad atrophy or loss of the fat padding. This means that the bones of the foot have less natural cushioning at both the heel and the ball of the foot, so it becomes important that the shoe provides this cushioning and protection for the foot and bones. Cushioning can also provide shock absorption for the elderly foot.

Another very important feature to consider is a slip resistant sole. Again, with the falls risk becoming higher as people lose muscle strength, proprioception and stability, it is vital to ensure shoes provide the strong platform the person may lack. A rubber sole may assist with adequate traction.

The upper of the shoe should be made from soft and flexible materials, to allow for toe deformities such as bunions or hammer toes. The upper should also be breathable material, with minimal seams to ensure no rubbing and blistering.

Proper footwear can help reduce the risk of falling. It can also help relief the stress on arthritic knees. Proper footwear for knee pain should provide support and cushioning under the heel. It has proven to be a relief to early stages of arthritic knee condition.

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A special thanks to our contributors

Caroline Egan

DCM Media, agedcare101

Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

Ian Horswill


Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

Jill Donaldson


Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.