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Footwear and Falls


Foot problems make walking difficult and may lead to falling, whether they are related to a medical condition or the shoes. It is a significant problem for the elderly, as in the US more than 11 million seniors—one out of every three people age 65 or older—have foot problems. The majority of those affected are women.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons has the following guidelines for shoe wear to help prevent falls:

  • Shoes should be properly fitting, and sturdy, with nonskid sole.
  • Avoid high heels and shoes with smooth, slick soles. A comfortable shoe that has a slippery sole may be modified with textured strips.
  • Remeasure your shoes to select correct size.
  • Do not wear shoes with extra-thick soles.
  • Shoes with laces are safer than slip-ons, but keep the laces tied. Loose or long laces can cause you to fall.
  • Replace stretched out of shape and loose slippers.
  • If you have trouble putting on your shoes, use a long-handled shoehorn.
  • Never walk in your stocking feet.
  • Wear slippers with non-slip soles.
  • Women who cannot find athletic shoes that are wide enough for proper fit should use men’s shoes, as shoe manufacturers make men’s shoes wider than women’s.
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