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Tips for buying shoes for elderly feet

Many older people continue to wear ill fitting shoes contributing to pain and trauma in the feet and toes. Our choice of shoes can also increase our risk of falls.

Ageing feet

Our feet get bigger with age but many people buy shoes that don't fit properly. Wearing shoes that are too narrow or illsuited to the condition of the feet increase the risk of falls and discomfort from bunions and calluses.

If you are buying shoes for a family member, make sure they fit comfortably on the spot and are appropriate for the kind of activity intended. It can help to get the feet measured and shoes properly fitted by a professional.

Shoes need to be of sufficient length and width. Some people may need to wear special orthoses (inserts) or a custom made shoe to fit misshapen feet. People with hammertoe for instance will need a shoe with enough toe room. If a loved one has diabetes take special care when choosing a shoe, watch out for inside seams that could cause pressure or friction on the feet.

For people in residential care, ask a local shoe shop if they can visit an aged care home or take a tracing of your family member's foot for some indication of shoe size, take it with you to avoid too many return visits. 

Tips for finding shoes for ageing feet

  • Feet can swell during the day so shop for shoes when feet are their largest (end of day)
  • Shoes should not need "breaking in" they should fit comfortably from the start
  • Ensure the toes don't touch the end of the shoe, allow a 1cm gap from the longest toe
  • Choose rubber soles for extra cushioning
  • Ensure shoes are wide and deep enough to prevent heel slip
  • Lace up, buckles or Velcro should hold the heel in place Velcro straps can be easier for arthritic hands
  • Slip on shoes can encourage the toes to ‘claw’ at the shoe to keep it on leading to discomfort, corns and calluses
  • Look for shoes with soft leather uppers
  • Ensure shoes protect the feet from injury
  • Ask your podiatrist about specific lace techniques to prevent heel slip



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Australian Podiatry Council, 2012
Your podiatrist talks about ageing