Fall Prevention: Feet First

Published on September 13, 2023

Approximately 30% of Canadian seniors experience one or more falls each year. Though there are many things that can affect the risk of a senior taking a tumble, one variable that can be adjusted to easily prevent falls includes footwear. Depending on the type of shoes, if any at all, worn at home, you or a loved one could be at greater risk of falling and injuring yourself.

Elderly individuals can often have a weaker sense of balance, mobility, and may be hard of hearing or vision, and therefore, they are already more likely to trip and fall in their homes. Choosing unreliable or unsafe footwear will add to the risk of suffering a fall. For this reason, it is important to consider that the type of shoes worn inside could help to prevent further falls or accidents. Listed below are different types of footwear, ranked from worst to best in relation to preventing falls.

Wearing socks alone without shoes inside will increase the chances of slipping while walking around or going up or down stairs as there is nothing on the bottom to grip the floor below. Additionally, without the protection of footwear, feet are more susceptible to injuries, which can lead to a fall. For example, stubbing a toe and losing balance.

Slippers are also not the most practical or safe option. Slip-on slippers can be problematic as your feet may slip out, causing you to trip. Additionally, many types of slippers will lack a gripping sole, meaning that it is easier to slip or lose balance on slick/smooth surfaces. Slippers also provide little to no support to the feet and ankles leaving the possibility to an ankle rolling over, or your feet becoming sore.

Depending on the type of sandals worn, these can be an okay/middle of the road option. Sandals such as flip flops and slip-ons are of similar safety to wearing slippers, however the sole is likely more durable and can grip surfaces with a bit more strength. Sandals which have foot bed support and ankle straps such as hiking sandals are a better choice if open toed shoes are the preference.

Lace-up running shoes or sneakers are one of the best options for indoor shoes. Running shoes offer great support for the feet, while protecting them and providing a sole that will grip the floor, or carpet suitably. The only downside to lace up shoes is that the laces could present themselves as a hazard. If a lace comes undone without you or your loved one realizing, it could lead to stepping on loose laces and falling as a result. However other than that, they are a responsible choice.

Lastly, the best choice for an indoor shoe to prevent falling would be a lace-less type shoe (like a pull-on sneaker or Velcro strap sneaker) or a clog type shoe. Both options will provide good support to the foot while having a sole that will grip the floor well. Additionally, the lack of laces will eliminate the chances of tripping over a lace that has come undone.

Although this does not cover all the possibilities for indoor footwear, take this as a guide when choosing the most appropriate shoes to wear inside to help prevent taking a fall.

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