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Wear Safe Footwear

Foot problems can impair an older adult’s balance and change the way they walk, putting them at increased risk of falling. Footwear styles that have minimal contact with the ground, such as high heels, or that have poor grip can also upset an older adult’s balance and contribute to falls. It is often a combination of foot problems and unsafe footwear that increase an older adult’s risk of falling.

There are three key factors to consider when assessing an older adult’s risk of falling in relation to footwear and foot problems:

  • Footwear – Do the older adult’s shoes fit well and are safe?
  • Foot problems – Does the older person have foot pain or other regular foot problems?
  • Referring – Do you need to refer the older adult to a podiatrist who may be able to assess these problems further and make recommendations for footwear?

Safe footwear

Characteristics of safe footwear include:

  • Soles:
    • Shoes with thinner, firmer soles may improve foot position and sensation
    • Slip resistant with tread (grip)
  • Heels
    • A low square heel improves stability
  • Collar
    • A high and supportive collar
  • Fit
    • Shoes should fit well and not be too loose or too tight on the foot

Consider using the Stay On Your Feet® Shoe Safety Checklist with older adults to start the conversation about their shoe safety.

Shoe Safety checklist

Shoe Safety checklist


People with diabetes may be at an increased risk of falling. This is because there can be damage to the foot’s nerves and blood supply, particularly if the diabetes is untreated.

Diabetes Australia and Diabetes WA describe the link between diabetes and foot health.

Who can help?

There are a number of podiatrists and other organisations who can assist with assessment or interventions for foot conditions. Podiatrists can provide advice on which footwear is suitable for an older adult and can make recommendations that they can take with them when purchasing new shoes.

Find a podiatrist:

Funding options for footwear

Stay On Your Feet® is provided by Injury Matters and funded by the Western Australian Department of Health.

Find out more
Government of Western Australia Department of Health Injury Matters