Every year millions of older adults experience falls, and many will suffer injuries so serious they require attention in the emergency room, or even hospitalization. For many of these seniors, compromised balance contributed to or directly caused the fall.
As a family caregiver, it is important for you to take as many steps as possible to help your parent cope with their balance problems in ways that will promote activity and independence, while also managing risk and protecting your senior.
Encouraging physical activity that strengthens their muscles and joints, and increases their balance, is an important aspect of this, but so is what your parent chooses to wear on their feet. Simply by choosing a better footwear, you can improve your parents balance and control, and help them to stay safer.
Use these tips to improve safety for a senior with compromised balance by choosing proper footwear:
- Ensure they fit securely, but are not too tight. You don’t want your parent’s feet sliding in the shoes, but you also don’t want the natural movement restricted.
- Shoes should have as low a heel as possible. Elevated heels on shoes are linked to bad posture, compromised gait, and unsteady balance.
- Look for shoes with hard, thin soles. Softer soles require more muscle strength and control to maintain balance, while thicker soles make it harder for your parent to feel the ground beneath them and adapt to changes in terrain>
- Evaluate gait when determining sole texture. Your first thought may be to choose shoes with slip-resistant soles, such as those sold for people who work in restaurants. While this may be beneficial in some situations, and for some seniors, it is not necessarily the right choice for all seniors.
- Evaluate how your parent walks to determine if this type of sole is the best option. If your parent shuffles their feet, or slides them across the floor rather than picking them up fully with each step, this type of slip resistance may actually be dangerous. Your parent may feel as though they are “stuck” to the floor or that their shoes “caught” the floor, making them trip or stumble. A senior with this type of gait often does better with a smooth sole that moves easily over the floor. There should still be tread, and the presence of beveling, to provide grip on wet surfaces.
Staying in their own home as they age is an important concept for most elderly adults. If you are a family caregiver for a senior who is struggling with mobility problems, or they have experienced falls in the past, you may be worried they will be unable to do this.
Starting homecare for them can be a meaningful and effective way to help them achieve this goal. A homecare services provider can be with your aging parent on a customized schedule to offer a variety of customized services tailored specifically to them, and their challenges.
This can include helping them move around their house, helping them go up and down stairs, assisting with transferring in and out of bed or chairs, helping with toileting and bathing, and also helping them to get out of their home more often to be active in the world around them. These services allow your parent to stay safer, while also promoting a more independent and fulfilling lifestyle.