Best Shoes for Seniors – 2021 Buying Guide
For example, choosing a shoe that is comfortable and supportive may take precedence over style and design. However, that is not to say you cannot have both!
Our top ten best shoes for the elderly and seniors will provide you with a shoe for a range of occasions, balancing style, comfort, and support.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
There are four primary safety feature categories: cushioning, support, traction, and flexibility.
Shoe manufacturers have been able to create a plethora of different technologies to provide these essential safety features, so everyone can find a shoe that suits their personal needs.
Cushioning and flexibility primarily provide shock-absorption and shock-dispersion while support and traction primarily focus on keeping the wearer steady on their feet to reduce the likelihood of falls.
It is of the utmost importance to find a shoe that provides enough of each of these safety features to suit your needs or the needs of your elderly friend or relative without these features negating one another, as support features can sometimes negate cushioning and flexibility in shoes.
Ultimately, the amount of cushioning, support, traction, and flexibility that you need is something you must figure out for yourself. This guide will provide you with examples of safety features that provide each of the above categories.
To ascertain if the shoe you are considering purchasing contains the safety features you want, you will need to do some research online or in the store.
Another thing you may want to consider in terms of safety and protection is the type of climate a certain model was made for.
Summer and winter footwear vary greatly and require completely different aspects. We tried to include both footwear that would be appropriate in mildly cold temperatures, rain, and snow, as well as sandals more suited for summer wear, or that around the house.
Shock-absorption is the first quality on this list because shock can result in pain and serious injury from your toes to your lower back.
Biologically, feet were designed to absorb shock - that’s why we have arches and why our feet look exactly the way they do. Unfortunately, when you are running at higher speeds or have heavier footstrikes, sometimes the shock-absorbing capabilities of your feet are insufficient and the shock travels up to your ankles, legs, hips, and lower back.
This is where cushioning in shoes comes into play. Shoes are designed to protect your feet; that’s why we wear them. Cushioning absorbs and disperses shock through the cushioning materials of the shoe, which reduces how much shock affects your feet and travels up your ankles and legs to your hips and back.
Cushioning can be found throughout the entire shoe, but some shoes have less than others. Similarly, some people need less cushioning than others, so it’s important to know what feels good on your feet and what doesn’t.
So, how do shoe manufacturers build cushioning into their shoes? There are four locations in the shoe that can have cushioning features built into it: the upper, the insole, the midsole, and the outsole. Each one of these serves its own purpose and is strategically used in different shoes in different ways.
Upper: The upper of the shoe is the part of the shoe that wraps around your foot. The most common form of cushioning found in the upper of the shoe is padding. The padding can vary from shoe to shoe and it can be anything from simple fabric padding or air-pockets enclosed within the fabric and the outer material of the shoe.
When looking for a shoe for yourself or an elderly relative or friend, you need to consider how much padding you need in the upper of the shoe.
Insole: The insole of a shoe is the part of the sole that touches your foot directly. It’s also known as the insert or the footbed. The insole can be made with several different materials from foam to fabric padding to gel pockets. Even though this part of the sole touches your foot directly, it doesn’t actually serve as major of a role in shock-absorption as the other parts of the sole! Nevertheless, the insole still needs to be considered.
An insole that is too thin and offers little to no cushioning will not be able to protect your feet from shock, which in turn reduces the shock-absorbing effectiveness of the entire sole unit and, ultimately, the entire shoe.
Midsole: The midsole unit is the MVP of the sole. It’s wedged between the insole and the outsole and generally serves multiple purposes, but one of the most important purposes that it serves is shock-absorption. Shoe manufacturers consistently use their best shock-absorbing shoe technologies in the midsole unit.
Ethyl vinyl acetate, also known as EVA, and polyurethane foams are the most common midsole technologies, but they also come in the form of air pockets. Some shoe manufacturers even use more than one of these midsole technologies in their shoes, so it’s good to look into what kind of midsole the shoe you are considering has.
Support is just an important factor to consider as cushioning is.
Unfortunately, as we age, we sometimes find ourselves a little unsteady on our feet. Hence, support is extremely important in shoes for senior citizens.
As we walk or run, our feet naturally rotate slightly around the ankle. This natural movement is broken into two categories: pronation and supination. Pronation is the natural inward rolling of your foot as you roll your foot from heel to toe. As you push off the ground with your forefoot, your foot rolls outward while you bring your heel around for the footstrike. This outward rolling of your foot is called supination.
People who have normal pronation and supination - a fifteen-degree roll inward and outward - usually don’t have as many problems with shock-absorption and stability, because their feet are more efficient at absorbing shock and maintaining balance. Unfortunately, many of us don’t have normal pronation and supination.
Overpronation occurs when your foot naturally rolls inward too much and usually comes with hyposupination when your foot does not roll outward enough to compensate for the overpronation. Underpronation occurs when your foot doesn’t roll inward enough and usually comes with hypersupination, which is when your foot rolls outward too much.
People who have pronation and supination problems generally have arch and heel pain and can develop serious medical conditions, such as plantar fasciitis. As the ability of the foot to absorb shock and to maintain balance is also reduced by pronation and supination problems, these problems can also result in additional strain and shock affecting the foot, ankle, leg, hips, and lower back.
The foot’s weakened ability to maintain balance can also result in rolling a foot or an ankle, which can result in a serious fall and injury.
Fortunately, shoe manufacturers have invested time and money into researching and creating new shoe technologies that help promote your stability by supporting your feet in the areas that need it most.
Support features can be built into the upper, midsole, and outsole of the shoe and it is important to consider each of these regions when making a selection.
Upper: The upper, as mentioned above, can be padded for shock-absorption and comfort. However, the upper also plays a vital role in maintaining your balance and supporting your feet.
Most of the shoes on this list of great shoes for the elderly have firm leather or synthetic uppers. These uppers reduce your risk of rolling a foot and sometimes for rolling an ankle if the upper comes up high enough.
Some of the shoes on this list combine breathable mesh uppers with synthetic or leather overlays that give the shoe a sort of exoskeleton that helps support your foot. These shoes can be quite effective, but the best supportive uppers for the elderly are more firm leather or synthetic materials than mesh.
Full-Foot Supports: Sometimes, shoe manufacturers use firmer foams as the cushioning in the midsole. The firmer midsole foam acts as both shock-absorbing foam and as support. Like a mattress, not everyone is satisfied with the same amount of cushion and support. The more firm that midsole unit is, the better the support.
For people with pronation and supination problems, shoe manufacturers created full-length foam wedges to use in the midsole. The most commonly taper off to one side to correct overpronation problems. However, foam units aren’t the only means of full-foot support that shoe manufacturers use.
They also use full-foot length shanks made of thermoplastic polyurethane, wood, plastic, or steel, depending on the type of shoe you are looking to invest in. Thermoplastic polyurethane, or TPU, shanks are the most common as they are more flexible than steel and firmer than just plastic. It absorbs shock and helps to stabilize your gait.
Arch Supports: Arch supports can come in the form of foam wedges, air pockets, or midfoot support shanks- all of which are found beneath the arch. Arch supports are especially important for people with high arches and for people with pronation and supination problems.
Heel Supports: For people with heel and back pain, heel support features can really make an impact. Commonly, heel cups, extra-depth uppers, and supportive rings with cushioning are used to produce a supportive effect which often also helps absorb shock. Heel cups are a solid piece of a firm substance that is used to cup the heel and provide it with support.
Supportive heel rings serve a similar purpose, but these firm units are rings that are filled with powerful cushioning materials to increase the shock-absorption as well as the wearer’s stability. Extra-depth uppers create a more comfortable environment for your heel because the heel and Achilles tendon won’t be rubbed abrasively by the heel counter.
Outsole: The outsole is best known for providing traction and grip to reduce your risk of falling. However, just as it can with shock-absorption, the outsole can also be designed to support your whole foot or specific areas of your foot that need it most. Nearly every major shoe manufacturer has their own outsole technologies utilizing shanks, firm materials in the outsole, interlocking outsole units, and supportive tread design.
For support, however, we will focus on the outsole material and support specific outsole technologies that are most commonly found in shoes.
Outsole Material: The most supportive outsole materials are leather, rubber, and firm synthetics. However, as we have already discussed, leather does not absorb shock well, so it would be best to eliminate any shoe with a leather outsole from the running. It should be noted, however, that the leather outsole can be more supportive than rubber or synthetics.
If grip and cushioning are not major concerns of yours, then the leather outsole may serve your needs better than rubber and synthetics could.
Outsole Pattern: The outsole pattern varies by manufacturer and within each brand, the outsole also varies from model to model of shoe. The biggest thing you should consider for the outsole pattern when evaluating it for supportive benefits is the location of the firmest parts of the outsole.
Some shoes come with an under-arch support beam built into the outsole rather than the midsole to save the midsole unit for cushioning, for example. These shoes often have an asymmetrical groove pattern that connects different areas of the outsole to the rest. This is most common in interlocking outsole parts.
When you look at the bottom of the shoe, if there are pieces of rubber or synthetic material that are a different color and shape than the rest of the outsole of the shoe, then that means the outsole uses two or more different compounds to provide you with the best support and shock-absorption.
Supportive Air Cushioning: Some outsoles have dense air pockets or small support springs built into them. These pockets and springs are great for shock-absorption, but they can also provide excellent support. The dense air pockets raise your heel to provide more support, as do the support springs and beams.
strong>Shanks: Shanks in the best casual shoes are usually made of hardened polyurethane. They can be found solely in the heel, solely in the midfoot, or across the entire foot as a full-length shank. They help provide support where you need it.
Another important detail to consider is the shoe’s ability to grip the ground.
You need traction both to propel yourself forward and to stabilize your step and help you travel safely. The primary way that manufacturers provide traction is by using effective groove patterns that help the shoe grip the ground.
The most effective groove patterns are deeper than others and extend to the very edges of the outsole. This second part is extra important. The grooves in your sole that help your shoes grip the ground are utterly useless in wet conditions if they do not extend all the way to the edges of the shoe. To illustrate why this is important, consider the car analogy we used earlier about shock. Now, picture yourself driving a car across half an inch or more of water.
Odds are, you’re going to hydroplane, which happens when the car floats a bit on the water and the water separates tires from the road, which makes their treads useless for maintaining balance. The same thing is true for your shoes. If you walk in the water and the treads on the bottom of your shoes don’t allow water to escape, it will fill the grooves and then you slip.
The specific outsole pattern will vary by manufacturer and shoe model, but by and large, the pattern doesn’t explicitly matter, as long as the grooves are neither too deep nor too shallow, neither too wide nor too thin, and at least some of the grooves extend to the very edge of the outsole.
Flexibility, as mentioned above, deals mainly with absorbing and dispersing shock.
This prevents your risk of running-related injuries. The best shoes for elderly come with flexible uppers and flexible soles. There are a number of ways that manufacturers promote flexibility, but it is important to make sure that the shoe isn’t so flexible that it has no support.
That’s why most manufacturers combine flexible mesh materials with supportive overlays. This allows the shoe to flex and bend with the foot naturally without losing control. It also supports the foot without becoming hard and unforgiving.
To further help the shoe absorb and disperse shock, manufacturers have developed special flex grooves to help the shoe bend naturally with your foot. However, too many flex grooves can reduce the support that the shoe offers and flex grooves that are too deep can, as well. So, look for a balance of firmness and flexibility, because this can really impact your comfort as well as your health.
Top 10 Shoes for the Elderly
1. Saucony Echelon 8
The most comfortable option
The Saucony Echelon 8 is a great road running shoe built with mesh uppers and an external heel counter to help keep your foot locked down. The plush tongue and collar help to secure and cushion your foot while the Tri-Flex Outsole promotes flexibility on ground contact from heel strike through to toe-off. They are also a great choice as shoes for older people.
The synthetic mesh upper of this shoe is designed to promote airflow to cool your feet. The mesh upper also helps with allowing water to drain out of the shoe.
The built-in sock liner offers a durable underfoot comfort while the FORMFIT contoured footbed adds, even more, cushioning and comfort to each step.
With support for natural to under pronated strides, you know you're getting the best comfort possible. These are definitely the best sneakers for seniors on the market in 2021.
2. Orthofeet Avery
The foot pain relief option
This leather shoe is firm and supportive from forefoot to heel counter. The sole’s rocker profile promotes natural foot motion and reduces shock from each footstrike. The Ortho-Cushion System with a lightweight sole and air cushioning helps to soften each step.
The Avery is great for those with sensitive feet and those who suffer from diabetes, neuropathy, and rheumatoid arthritis. They're great for foot, heel, metatarsal, knee, arch, and back pain. With added comfort features they are sure to be a favorite of those with injuries or pain points.
The Ortho-Cushion Systehin with a lightweight sole and air cushioning softens each step and even adds a spring to them. It is biomechanically engineered to help alleviate the stress on joints and help enhance stability.
When wearing the Avery shoes, one of the best walking shoes for seniors on our list, you will feel like a brand-new person.
3. Skechers Go Walk 5
The affordable option
The Go Walk 5 is built with as few seams as possible, making it almost seamless. The mesh upper is breathable, which helps keep your feet cool and dry so you don’t have to worry as much about the development of blisters.
The upper is also lightly padded throughout, which promises to cushion your upper foot from light bumps. This is why we listed these as one of the best walking shoes for seniors and added them to our list.
Skechers uses its 5GEN midsole unit in this installment of its Go Walk series. It is a full-length foam unit wedged between the insole and outsole that provides responsive cushioning.
To add even more comfort, Skechers uses their Goga Max footbed as the insole for it. It is made of a responsive foam material.
4. New Balance 928 V3
The best options for long walks
The New Balance 928v3 walkingsShoes are known for their ability to provide support and stability with every step you take. The shoe has been built with a ROLLBAR stability post system that works by controlling rearfoot movement, enhancing the level of support from the shoe. Additional support comes from the shoes Walking Strike Path outsole technology that cleverly guides the foot through the walking gait cycle, delivering stability and motion control.
The walking shoe is extremely comfy to wear, featuring an ABZORB midsole that absorbs impact through a combination of compression resistance and cushioning. This feature is particularly useful if you are on your feet all day.
The New Balance walking shoe has a removable PU foam footbed that gives you an extra level of cushioning, making them perfect to wear on long walks. The PU foam footbed also improves the durability of the shoe. The NDurance rubber outsole technology provides fantastic durability, reducing the rate of wear and tear. The walking shoe has also received an odor-resistant treatment, ensuring the shoes smell fresh all day long!
These New Balance shoes come in a choice of 3 colors including Grey/Grey, Black/Black, and White/Blue. Sold for a mid price price,these are a brilliant buy as they offer a lot in return for the higher price tag.
5. Rockport Eureka
The everyday wear option
These Rockport Eureka shoes for seniors are an everyday casual shoe that is extremely comfortable, you will not want to take them off! Featuring a removable latex foam footbed, this level of cushioning makes the walking shoe super comfy and helps reduce foot fatigue when you are on your feet.
The shoe has an EVA midsole that makes the shoe lightweight, flexible and absorbs a good amount of impact when on the move. Extra padding along the collar, provides cushioned support, therefore, reducing the risk of blisters.
It has been made from a leather material that is easy to clean. The shoe has a moisture-wicking mesh lining, making it highly breathable, particularly in warmer temperatures. The men’s shoe has a rubber outsole that is extremely durable and resistant to wear.
Additional features that achieve comfortable wear include tongue padding, heel stability, and forefoot flexibility. This walking shoe is available in 3 leather shades including black, brown, and chocolate nubuck. Priced at a mid-range, this Rockport shoe is a reliable walking shoe that will make you look and feel great all day long.
6. Dr. Scholl’s Madison
The best selling on Amazon
Known for being a bestselling sneaker, Dr. Scholl’s Madison sneaker is one of the most versatile shoes on our list. Stylish, sustainable, and comfortable, you can simply slip these sneakers on and pop out on errands or relax at home. The sporty women’s sneaker has been made from a microsuede and faux leather material that is super soft against your skin.
Easy to slip-on, these sneakers have been made partly from a microsuede material that comes from recycled bottles, making them environmentally friendly.
The sneakers have been built with Insole Technology, providing anatomical cushioning, support, and comfort. The lightweight shoe is also flexible, allowing the sneaker to effortlessly move with your foot. Additional features include a padded collar that keeps your heel firmly in place and twin stretch gore panels, achieving a comfy fit.
The sneakers come in 16 different designs, giving you plenty of choices. Shoe sizes also include wide options, suitable for larger feet. Available for mid-price, these stylish sneakers are a great all-rounder shoe that you will make your feet feel years younger.
7. Propet TravelActiv Mary Jane
The easiest to slip on
The TravelActiv Mary Jane shoe by Propet is a stylish walking shoe that is available in many beautiful colors. It’s not just a pretty shoe, though. The Propet TravelActiv Mary Jane is built to be lightweight and flexible which reduces strain and absorbs more shock.
The simple hook-and-loop closure and velcro strap make this shoe convenient and easy to use.
The breathable mesh upper on these best shoes for seniors serves three purposes. It cools your feet, helps dry your feet and reduces the development of odors, and flexes with your foot freely.
Sometimes when we get older, we have to use special orthotic insoles or inserts. The removable insole in this shoe means you can customize it to suit your health needs. That is why these are on our list of best walking shoes for the elderly.
8. Hanes Moccasin
The best for both indoors & outdoors
Since 1901, Hanes has been making some of America’s comfiest shoes, with Hanes Moccasin slipper shoes being one of the latest entries to their collection. These house shoes from Hanes have a ComfortSoft memory foam footbed that provides a good level of cushioning and allows the shoe mold to the shape of your foot creating a custom fit.
The plaid fleece lining provides further comfort, making these shoes extremely cozy. A Hanes Fresh IQ advance odor protection technology makes your slippers smell just as fresh as the first day you bought them.
The men’s house shoes feature a durable gripped sole that prevents any slips both inside and outside the home. The slipper shoe has been built using a microsuede material for the exterior, achieving a high level of durability.
The shoe is machine washable and available in 10 different color shades. Sizes range from Small to 3X-Large. Sold for a low price, these are an extremely affordable buy that will leave you feeling super happy.
9. NAOT Intact
The stylish option
While many options on our list are made for comfort, we wanted to bring style and cushion into the spotlight with the NAOT Intact. A company backed by APMA, NAOT creates footwear that crosses fashionable style with comfortable structure and cushion, helping to keep you feeling good in your shoes.
The Intact is a modest heeled sandal that can spruce up outfits for more formal occasions without being a nuisance to try and wear during longer events. With several options of color or upper material, it’s a great little heel to have in your collection.
The Intact rises a modest 2.25 inches, which makes it perfect for formal events, but not over the top in height to hurt your feet. The sole is constructed from polyurethane and has a patterned traction tread to help keep you stable. A metal shank also helps to support your feet where they need it most, in the arch and throughout the heel. The footbed is designed from latex and cork, with a soft lining that gives it a plush on-foot feel.
Uppers of this heel are nubuck leather, and available in a variety of colors to compliment your favorite pieces in your wardrobe. Open toe in design, closures are found not just around the ankle straps, but also at the toe as hook and loop closures. This allows for not only easy access and use, but also adjustability for width, or any swelling. This is one option you can’t go wrong with if you’re looking for shoes for elderly women that are a bit more formal.
10. Clarks Ayla Paige
The most versatile option
If you are looking for something a little different, these tailor-made Clark Ayla Paige ballet shoes may be exactly what you have been looking for! These slim, feminine style ballet flats from Clarks are easy to wear, all you need to do is slip them on, and off you go.
The flats have an ultra-lightweight EVA outsole that provides the perfect balance of support and flexibility. They are also great for ladies who like to wear shoes barefoot or with a lightweight sock.
The Clarks ballet flats have been built with a Cushion Soft Technology that makes them extremely comfortable. They have a removable Ortholite footbed and a smooth textile lining. The shoes have a lovely stretch knit topline detail making them effortless to put on.
Available in 11 different shades, there will certainly be a color to suit your tastes. The shoes also come in a wide size. Sold for a mid-price, these pretty ballet flats would make a gorgeous addition to any outfit.