Shoes for dementia patients need to maximize safety and support limited mobility, since dementia can increase a senior’s fall risk and hinder their movements. Therefore, a dementia patient’s shoes should be supportive, comfortable, anti-slip, and easy to take on and off.
Read on to learn what to look for when picking shoes for a senior with dementia, plus some of the best options currently on the market.
In this article:
Shoes can be crucial pieces of safety equipment for seniors with dementia. Studies have shown that wearing proper shoes in the home can lower the likelihood of falls. However, wearing unsupportive footwear, like slippers, may lead to a significantly increased fall risk among community-dwelling seniors, according to a systematic review from the Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development.
Certain shoe features can improve balance, safety, and joint health among seniors. These same features can also fulfill a variety of dementia patients’ footwear needs. Other features of an ideal shoe for dementia patients offer traction to each step to minimize slips and falls.
Key features to look for when shoe shopping for dementia patients include:
Hook-and-loop or Velcro-style fastening will likely be easiest for dementia patients who are able to take their shoes on and off independently. Dementia can decrease fine motor skills, and using hook-and-loop straps generally requires less dexterity than using laces or zippers. However, zipper-lace designs can combine the ease of large zipper pulls with the support of one-time tying for customized tightness.
It’s crucial that a senior’s shoes fit their foot’s length, width, and arch profile. Proper-fitting shoes for dementia patients can reduce their fall risk, add comfort, and reduce joint and back pain.
Shoes that are too long can increase tripping hazards from stubbing the toe of the shoe into floors, steps, or thresholds. Shoes that are too narrow limit surface area between the sole and the ground, and shoes that are too wide can allow the foot to swim loosely inside the shoe. Shoes that don’t fit offer less support and make balance more difficult.
Talk to your loved one’s doctor or a podiatrist if you’re not sure how to fit shoes properly to your relative’s feet. They’ll also be able to tell you if adding orthotics would be best for the senior’s individual arch profile. Studies have shown that proper arch support can improve balance, decreasing senior dementia patients’ fall risk.
Walking shoes are likely the best type of shoe for seniors with dementia. Their athletic-oriented design and comfortable yet supportive materials often fulfill safety needs better than sandals, slippers, or fashion-oriented designs.
Since feet generally become wider and flatter with age, most options listed below offer wide and removable insoles to fit your loved one’s foot width, and they may offer room for a variety of orthotics if your relative needs extra arch support.
The cost of some shoes for dementia patients may be reimbursed by Medicare. If your relative itemizes medical costs, be sure to keep receipts to submit for potential reimbursement.
Now that you know what to look for when picking out shoes for your loved one with dementia, here are some top walking shoe options currently available on the market.
Cost: £83.99 ($88.23) on the Friendly Shoes website
Cost: As low as $64.95 on Amazon
Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.
Cost: $50.20 on the Silverts website
Cost: $58.57 on the Silverts website
Cost: $79.95 on Amazon
Mulford, D., Taggart, H., Nivens, A., & Payrie, C. (2008, August). Arch supports for improving balance and reducing pain in older adults. Applied Nursing Research.
Gross, T., Mercer, V. S., & Lin, F. (2012, July 1). Effects of foot orthoses on balance in older adults. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy.
Jellema, A., Huysmans T., Hartholt, K., & van der Cammen, T. J.M. (2019, June 6). Shoe design for older adults: evidence from a systematic review on the elements of optimal footwear. Maturitas.
Menant, J. C., Steele, J. R., Menz, H. B., Munro, B. J., & Lord, S. R. (2008, November 8). Optimizing footwear for older people at risk of falls. Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development.
The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal, or financial advice or create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom and the reader. The recommendations contained herein are based on the opinions of the author. Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney, or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter, and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site. Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not endorse the contents of the third-party sites.