Falls are very dangerous for older adults, as they can lead to a fractured bone and potential hospitalization. In the direst circumstances, people can succumb to sickness in hospital and never recover, all stemming from the fall that put them there in the first place.
So, it goes without saying that managing one’s life to avoid such a fall is important. Falls can happen easily and suddenly. One new study comes in just the nick of time (summer), as it found that going barefoot or wearing just slippers or socks when at home contributes to falls.
Researchers found that nearly 52% of the participants who reported a fall were either barefoot, wearing socks without shoes, or wearing slippers at the time of their fall. These people also reported more serious injuries, including fractures, sprains, dislocations, and pulled or torn muscles, ligaments or tendons as a result of their fall.
During the assessment, the participants were asked what type of footwear they usually wear at home: sneakers, flat-sole canvas shoes, oxfords or other tied shoes, loafers, sandals, pumps, slippers, socks or stockings only, or barefoot. Participants were followed for an average of 27 months and were asked to record each day whether they had fallen — as well as what shoes they were wearing.
Of those who fell, more than 18% were barefoot; nearly 27% were wearing slippers; and seven percent wore socks only. The study will be published in the summer issue of the journal “Footwear Science.”
Previous studies have shown that at least two in 10 older adults do not wear shoes around the home. For those who did, slippers were by far most common. Both balance and grip are adversely affected when people are barefoot or in socks.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of adults 65 and older fall each year in the United States. Thirty percent of these individuals suffer moderate to severe injuries, including hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries. Experts say that many falls are due to preventable factors such as muscle weakness, improper footwear, and medications.
So, in regards to the footwear, well-fitting, low-heeled shoes with slip-resistant soles are your best bet.