“Fall-Proof” Shoes May Not Be What You Think

When most people think of “fall-proof” shoes, they think of sturdy footwear with thick soles. However, not all shoes will help prevent falls in all situations, and so it is important for the elderly to know which types of footwear will keep them safest in different situations. Here, the home care providers at Avila Home Care discuss the details of studies on falls among  the elderly and provide some recommendations based on the studies on what types of shoes older adults should wear to help minimize the risk of falling.

 Footwear is a Significant Cause of Falls in the Elderly

While there are many causes for falls in elderly populations, footwear is a significant cause. A study conducted by Dr. Carol Frey, director of the Foot and Ankle Center at Orthopedic Hospital in Los Angeles, showed that approximately 28% of falls among elderly individuals are caused by the footwear they were wearing at the time of the fall. Other common causes of falls include conditions such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis or arthritis, medication that causes drowsiness or mental confusion, poor lighting or unforeseen obstructions in pathways.

 Not all Sturdy Shoes are Suitable in All Cases

Based on Dr. Frey’s study, she concluded that all athletic footwear is not suitable in all situations for elderly individuals. For example, bulky rubber soles can get caught on carpet, causing an elderly individual to trip and fall. Shoes with thin or worn soles may become slippery on wet surfaces, which may also increase the risk of falls.

High Heels are Rarely the Cause of Falls

Based on a study of elderly adults who suffered a fall-related hip fracture, only two percent (2%) of those studied were wearing high heels at the time of their fall. Approximately 22% of participants were wearing slippers at the time of their fall, which are considered risky because of the flexibility of the sole and the typical lack of fixation to the foot, such as by laces.

Choosing Proper Footwear

Elderly individuals should choose footwear based on where they will be walking. If an individual spends most of their time walking on carpeted areas, they should avoid shoes with thick rubber soles. This recommendation is also made for individuals who do not or are unable to lift their feet a significant amount when they walk.

When the soles of shoes become thin and worn, they should be replaced quickly. Shoes should fit snugly, and footwear with laces are preferable to slip-on shoes, which can come off more easily, potentially leading to a fall. While shoes with a lot of cushioning can be comfortable, these types of shoes may lead to poorer balance in elderly individuals, which can also cause a fall. Suitable all-purpose footwear should have a sole with good traction (not plastic or leather) and without significant amounts of rubber around the toe area, which can snag on carpet or become slippery on certain surfaces.

Avila Home Care Providers Can Help with Tasks Both Large and Small

With a few simple changes, elderly individuals can choose footwear that will help prevent falls. Whether helping with small tasks, such as dressing, or larger tasks, such as grocery shopping or visiting the doctor, Avila Home Care providers are here to help the elderly age in place with dignity and joy. We are committed to providing valuable information to elderly communities that promotes good health, safety and well-being. To learn more about how we at Avila can help, contact us today.

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