You’re a grown adult. You’ve been buying your own shoes since you were a teenager. You know what fits you and what doesn’t.
Let us guess. The shoes you’re wearing right now? You’ve had those for a few years. More than a few. They’ve served you well, they’re comfortable, and that’s all that matters.
Actually, you might want to take a closer look. Many people believe that once your feet stop growing, they level out, remaining roughly the same size for the rest of your life.
But this isn’t actually true. Elderly adults experience a wide variety of changes to the shape, size, and feeling of their feet as they age.
A recent study study shows how very widespread this incorrect belief actually is, and the damage it’s doing to elderly adults may surprise you.
The study explains that, “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.”
Not as Obvious as it Might Appear
During the study, the team examined the feet and footwear of 100 adults over the age of 65. Astoundingly, they found that 83% of the participants were wearing the wrong size shoe on at least one foot – shoes were either too big, too small, or the wrong width.
Interestingly, many participants required different sizes for the left and right foot.
Their results “strongly indicate that the choice of appropriate footwear is not as obvious as it might appear and highlight the need for health education in the area of foot care.”
Neuropathy and Pain Tolerance
Additionally, the study discovered that while only 19% of seniors were regularly checking their feet, over 70% exhibited signs of neuropathy – loss of sensation in the feet. Neuropathy increases a patient’s pain tolerance, which stifles the body’s natural warning system.
The result is a perfect storm for podiatric complications.
Dr. Bob Baravarian, Director of University Foot and Ankle Institute, weighed in: “Most seniors don’t realize their feet are changing shape right underneath them. Given how many are suffering from neuropathy, it’s easy to see why so many seniors are wearing shoes that don’t fit.”
Heightened Risk of Injury and Illness
Wearing the wrong size shoes can increase the risk of losing balance and falling, and lead to a lower quality of life. Chronic pain, infections, and the loss of mobility are among some of the chief concerns raised by the study.
Combined with other chronic diseases – vascular disease, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes – it’s no small wonder that elderly people experience a 71%-87% increase in the prevalence of foot problems, such as:
- Skin irritation
- Plantar keratoses
- Diabetic foot ulcers
Find the Right Footwear
This study confirms what podiatrists have long suspected: inadequate footwear is an incredibly common phenomenon for seniors and it’s costing patients their quality of life. If you are over the age of 65, make an appointment to have your feet sized by a foot and ankle specialist.
As a teaching institution, University Foot and Ankle Institute’s Fellowship Program is among the most advanced in the nation.
We at UFAI are driven to get our patients back to their normal activities with the highest level of function, in the least amount of time, using the least invasive treatments possible. From start to finish, we are with you every step of the way.
The UFAI Education Team works to help empower our patients and website visitors with the most up-to-date information about foot and ankle conditions, treatment options, recovery and injury prevention. Our goal is to pass on truly useful information to our readers.
We hope you enjoy our work and find it of value. Please let us know!
Latest posts by The UFAI Education Team (see all)
- Move Over, Pinktober: Celebrate National Foot Health Awareness Month this April! - April 19, 2017
- Foot Doctors Warn: “Older than 65? Your Shoes are Probably the Wrong Size” - April 13, 2017
- Feel Like You’re Growing Mushrooms on Your Toes? It’s Time to Learn the Signs and Causes of Toenail Fungus! - March 28, 2017