In 2015 a University of A Coruña research team conducted a study to determine whether elderly people made wrong footwear choices due to the changes in their foot morphology. In their study 83% of the subjects did not choose the correct size and should have been wearing a different size for each foot. The mean age of the subjects was 80 years old.
Daniel López López, a scientist at the University of A Coruña who led this study, stated: “In this stage of life, there are changes in foot morphology involving increased width and length, as well as changes in pain tolerance linked to age, and the loss of muscle mass and fatty tissue in the feet.” Their results demonstrate that elderly people who use the wrong shoes have a lower quality of life in all areas related to pain, foot function, footwear, food health, general health, physical activity, social capacity and vitality.
Foot problems have increased in prevalence in elderly people and it’s becoming worrisome. Chronic diseases such as obesity, vascular diseases, diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis have increased foot problems by 71 to 87%. The most common disorders are foot bone deformities, bunions, toenail malformations, plantar keratosis and flat feet. These often lead to infections, pain, difficulty walking, anxiety, apathy and loss of balance leading to more falls. These all negatively impact health, independence and well-being.
As people age there are many changes in foot morphology but most people don’t change their shoe size to accommodate these changes. Elderly people should recheck their shoe size periodically and also select proper footwear including wide-fit shoes with velcro or straps, rubber soles to prevent slipping and falling and those that reduce the impact on joints when walking.