Shoe Choice Effects Health of the Elderly
According to a study by the University of A Coruña, as people get older, they experience changes in their foot morphology. If they do not change their shoe size along with these transformations, they can suffer anxiety, apathy, loss of balance, and falls.
In 2015, a research team conducted a study of 80 years olds. They analyzed whether the changes to foot morphology that occur in elderly individuals, led to them using the wrong shoes. They concluded that the majority (83%) did not use the correct size and that, on occasions, they should have been using a different size for each foot.
Daniel López, a scientist at the University of A Coruña who led this study, explains, “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 on the feet.”
“Because of people’s lifestyles at this age, they can use shoes that are harmful to their feet. This, combined with the appearance of chronic diseases such as obesity, vascular diseases, diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, causes a worrying increase in foot problems in elderly people between 71% and 87%. This means having to seek medical and podiatric attention more frequently, as it affects their functional capacity and quality of life,” the scientist explains.
Decreased independence and wellbeing
The participants in this research project were volunteers from the Podiatry University Clinic at the University of A Coruña. They had an average age of 75. Their results demonstrate that elderly people who use the wrong shoes have a lower quality of life. In areas related to pain, foot function, footwear, food health, general health, physical activity, social capacity, and vitality.
The most common disorders are foot bone deformities, bunions, toenail malformations, plantar keratosis and flat feet. “This often leads to chronic pain, infections, and limited mobility. Changes to pressure distribution in feet related to loss of balance and falls. As a result, negatively impact upon health, independence, and well-being,” López informs us.
These individuals should use proper footwear. In other words, generally wide-fit shoes, or adjustable using velcro or straps. Rubber soles prevent slipping and falling and, in turn, reduce the impact on joints and pressure when walking.
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