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Prevent Falls By Choosing the Right Shoes

Preventing falls among older Americans is a top health priority, and improved balance can help reduce the risk of a fall, says Dr. Matthew Garoufalis, a podiatrist and president of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). "Proper footwear can help improve balance, especially in older people who may struggle with mobility and balance issues."

Put Shoes Through the APMA Test

APMA's 1-2-3 test.

1. Press on both sides of the heel area to ensure the heel is stiff and won't collapse.
2. Bend the shoe to check for toe flexibility. The shoe shouldn't bend too much in the toe box area, but it shouldn't be too stiff and inflexible either.
3. Try twisting the shoe; it shouldn't twist in the middle.

Have Your Feet Professionally Measured When You Shop

Natural aging and health changes can cause the size of your feet to change. Measure both feet - late in the day - and shop for the larger foot.

Bring Your Socks!

Bring the type of socks you plan to wear most often with the shoes. That will ensure you purchase the right fit for your foot.

Choose Quality Over Price

Quality shoes can be an investment. Before you buy, check to see if the brand and style you're considering have earned the APMA's Seal of Acceptance and Seal of Approval. The organization grants these seals to products found to promote good foot health.

Choose Comfort Over Style

Shoes should feel comfortable and supportive right away. If they don't feel good right away, breaking them in won't improve things.

Avoid High Heels and Slick Soles

They do look great, but they do absolutely nothing to prevent falls. Look for shoes that have nonskid soles, as they are more likely to prevent falls.

Should You Get Shoelaces?

Remember as kids we were constantly told to tie our shoes? It can be difficult to tie knots with arthritic fingers. Untied shoelaces are a sure way to fall quickly. If you have trouble bending or tying, consider Velcro fasteners as an alternative.

See a Podiatrist

If you have specific health challenges or foot issues, talk to a podiatrist about the best footwear for your needs. If your podiatrist has prescribed orthotics - biomechanical inserts that go into your shoes - take them with you when you shop and try them out in the shoes you're considering.  Having proper footwear is a key step (pun intended!) to helping to prevent falls among seniors.

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