Senior stretching in running shoes

Best Shoes for Elderly Women and Men Who Value Comfort and Style

By Publisher
Last updated

Nowadays, many manufacturers cater to seniors' fashion and functional needs by creating footwear that provides the necessary support and demonstrates a sense of style. So, when it comes to finding the best shoes for elderly women and men, there are plenty of comfortable and attractive options. The challenge lies in finding the right pair for your feet.

Did you know that, according to an article in Geriatric Orthopaedic Surgery & Rehabilitation, nearly 80 percent of elderly people experience foot problems? Ill-fitting footwear is a major cause of those problems. Talk to your healthcare professional if you have foot pain or concerns. They may recommend that you consult a podiatrist, who can assess your condition. A podiatrist can also measure the angle of your ankles and feet to have molds made and custom orthotic inserts manufactured.

The information below will help you understand the common problems that seniors experience with their footwear. You'll learn what features to look for in shoes and get practical tips to make shopping easier. You'll also read about shoes that are good for older adults with various needs or health conditions.

Common Footwear Problems in Older Adults

As people age, their feet undergo numerous changes that can affect the fit of their shoes. For example, your skin gets thinner and you lose fat padding on the bottom of your feet, so you may need extra cushioning in your shoes to stay comfortable. Your joints also get stiffer, and your arches get flatter. Plus, your feet tend to spread out more as tendons and ligaments lose strength, so you may need a bigger or wider shoe than you used to.

In addition, conditions like arthritis and diabetes can cause your feet or ankles to swell, so you will likely need shoes with adjustable openings and fasteners to accommodate your changing size. Arthritis can also make it painful to tie up laces, so Velcro shoes for seniors may be a good option.

Here are some common foot issues that seniors experience:

  • Corns or callouses: Hardened patches of skin that often develop as a result of repeated friction or pressure
  • Bunions: Bony bumps that develop on the joint at the base of the big toe, forcing the joint to stick outwards
  • Fallen arches: A condition in which the tendon supporting the foot arch weakens and allows the entire foot to contact the ground (something that can lead to knee and back pain)
  • Hammertoe: A deformity of the toe joint that causes the toe to curl downwards rather than point forward
  • Plantar fasciitis: Inflammation of a band of tissue along the bottom of the foot that causes heel pain, particularly first thing in the morning

The good news is that the pain and discomfort that accompanies these problems can often be improved by choosing the appropriate footwear. The right pair of shoes can also help keep you balanced, reduce the risk of falls, prevent knee and back problems, and encourage you to stay physically active.

What to Look For in Comfortable Shoes for the Elderly

Shoes that properly support your feet allow the muscles of your feet to work less and can result in fewer injuries. Here are a few features you may want to look for in seniors' footwear or "elderly" shoes (i.e., shoes for older adults):

Elderly man sitting in a shoe store trying to choose between two shoes, cane resting nearby.
  • A non-slip sole: This is essential to ensure stability and prevent falls. However, people with conditions like Parkinson's may want to look for smooth soles that will accommodate a shuffling gait.
  • Lace-free closures, such as Velcro straps: Flip-flops and other shoes that don't anchor to your feet could easily slip off or cause you to trip. Many seniors want their shoes to stay firmly on their feet without having to bend down and fiddle with laces. Velcro shoes for elderly ladies and men are easier to fasten and come in various styles.
  • A wide mouth: A wider opening makes getting your foot in and out of the shoe easier, especially if your feet swell. If you wear compression socks, make sure the shoe has enough space to fit them.
  • Adequate padding: Cushioning absorbs and disperses the shock of your foot impacting the ground, thus reducing the impact on your hips and back. If you tend to bump your feet against objects, you may want a shoe with more padding in the upper (the part that encloses your foot).
  • The right material: Shoes with uppers made of sturdy materials offer more support and insulation. On the other hand, a softer upper made of mesh will be more lightweight and provide more breathability. Some shoes feature a breathable mesh upper combined with a supportive overlay, which allows the shoe to bend with your foot without causing you to lose control.
  • Removable insoles: If you plan to use either over-the-counter or custom orthotics for shoes, you may need to be able to remove the insole.
  • A high back: This can help stabilize your ankle. A hard insert in the heel gives the shoe a firm structure and can help keep you from falling. However, it can also scratch or irritate your Achilles tendon if it doesn't have enough padding.
  • A low heel: Heels higher than an inch and a half place undue strain on your toes and the balls of your feet by shifting your weight forward. But a totally flat shoe can also be uncomfortable. Look for a wide, slightly raised heel that can help take the strain off your feet and legs.
  • Adequate traction: Good grip is critical, especially in shoes for elderly people with balance problems. Look for groove patterns on the bottom of the shoe that extend right to the edge. These grooves allow water to escape and help keep you steady in wet conditions.

Tips for Buying Shoes

You don't want to waste your money on poorly fitting shoes. To help ensure that you get what you need, try following these tips:

1. Think about the purpose of your shoes.

Are you looking for comfy footwear for around the house, or are you searching for the best walking shoes for seniors who like to stay active? Do you need shoes to keep you warm and dry in a cold climate, or are you hoping for light, airy summer slippers? Determining how you plan to use your shoes will help you decide what to buy.

2. Research online and be aware of return policies.

When researching, read online reviews carefully and consider each vendor's return policies. Buying shoes online that you are happy with is less risky if you're getting a new pair of the same shoes you currently wear or if you are dealing with a company with a good return policy.

3. Shop later in the afternoon.

Your feet expand during the day, so you'll get a more accurate fit if you try on new footwear later in the day rather than first thing in the morning.

4. Try them on and walk around.

Don't judge a pair solely by how they feel when you're sitting down. You need to see how they support your feet and ankles when you move about. If possible, walk on both hard and carpeted surfaces to see how the shoe performs.

5. Check the fit.

Your shoes should be sturdy enough to keep you stable without wobbling. Also, the toe box should be deep and roomy enough to wiggle your toes without feeling pressure. (However, the shoes should not be so roomy that your feet slide around inside.) There should be about half an inch of space between your longest toe and the front of the shoe. Remember that shoes generally won't stretch out, so they are probably not a good choice if they feel overly tight.

6. Don't rush.

If possible, try on several different pairs. Make sure you put both the left and right shoes on and walk around a bit to see how they feel. You may want to ask a salesperson to measure both of your feet, as they may be different sizes. If that's the case, go with the bigger size.

7. Don't go too cheap.

Spending more to get the right fit is worth it if you can afford it.

8. Be smart about gifting.

For many of the reasons listed above, buying shoes for grandpa or grandma (or anyone, really) should involve them as much as possible to ensure the right shoe choice and fit. It's wise to choose returnable or exchangeable footwear and, if possible, take the gift recipient shopping with you so they can try on and compare different styles.

This article contains affiliate links. We are compensated with a small commission, at no extra cost to you, for sales made through the links.

Good Shoes for Seniors

The most comfortable shoes for elderly men and women conform to their foot shape and offer the specific protections and stability they need. Everyone has different requirements and preferences, but here are a few shoes you may want to try:

1. Skechers Women's Go Walk 4 Kindle Slip-On Shoe

These extremely lightweight shoes have a non-slip rubber sole and a breathable, padded mesh upper. They offer good cushioning and are almost entirely seamless, so there is little chance of developing blisters. The insole also features antibacterial odor control. Plus, the Go Walk 4 Kindle is available in five colors.

Buy on Amazon

2. STQ Slip-ins Walking Shoes for Women

The STQ Slip-ins Walking Shoes for women are the epitome of convenience and comfort for an active lifestyle. These hands-free, slip-on shoes are designed for anyone who values ease, eliminating the hassle of laces. They boast a cloud-like sole for exceptional cushioning, making every step feel like walking on air while reducing joint pain and muscle impact. The knit design offers a snug, breathable fit, complemented by a heel pillow that secures and protects your foot. Ideal for individuals with mobility challenges, arthritis, or knee or back pain, these shoes are a versatile choice for daily wear. These shoes are available in four colors, including light grey with pink, taupe, black, and navy with teal accents.

Buy on Amazon

3. Skechers Performance Men's Go Walk 4

Black slip-on walking shoe with breathable mesh upper and rubber sole

Among the best walking shoes for elderly men, the Go Walk 4 features a nicely grooved rubber sole that provides excellent traction. These lightweight slip-on shoes have a flexible mesh upper, a highly supportive midsole, and an odor-controlled insole. They are comfortable to walk in and provide very good shock absorption.

Buy on Amazon

4. MEGNYA Women's Walking Sandals

Black braided rope sandals with black rubber sole

These handmade women's walking sandals blend artisanal quality with practical design, perfect for any vacation. The upper is crafted from hand-woven nylon cord, ensuring each pair is unique, while the synthetic soles provide durability. The straps can be adjusted for a perfect fit, ensuring the sandals remain firmly in place with every movement. Designed for comfort and stability, the EVA cushioned midsole and rubber outsole with arch support make these sandals ideal for hiking or long walks, ensuring your feet stay comfortable and supported, no matter the distance.

Buy on Amazon

5. Dr. Scholl's Men's Oxford

This men's classic, lace-up casual oxford includes a soft neoprene tongue and collar, offering a comfortable fit that's ideal for extended wear. The faux leather upper contributes to its polished style, while the lace-up design ensures a secure fit. For added comfort, especially beneficial for seniors, the insole incorporates BE FREE Energy Technology with three zones of support: extra support under the toe for stability, high-recovery foam at the ball of the foot for ease of movement, and dense foam cradling the heel for cushioning. Additionally, the shoe is machine washable, offering ease of maintenance and contributing to the overall convenience of the shoe.

Buy on Amazon

6. Orthofeet Joelle Women's Walking Shoe

Silver orthopedic walking shoe for women with a hook and loop strap closure and breathable mesh design.

These Velcro tennis shoes for elderly women feature a slip-resistant rubber sole and a flexible fabric upper for a relaxed fit. The toe box is wide and deep, with good arch support. The soft, seamless lining reduces friction and pain and enhances comfort.

Buy on Amazon

Shoes for Older Adults With Diabetes

You may be eligible for free shoes and inserts via the Therapeutic Shoes for Individuals with Diabetes program if you have diabetes and receive benefits under Medicare Part B. Only diabetic shoes for men and women that are designated as A5500-approved are covered by the program. Such shoes feature four main characteristics:

  1. They are extra deep to accommodate custom orthotics.
  2. They come in at least three different widths.
  3. They have some form of closure to secure them to the feet.
  4. They are made from a breathable and protective material.

Even if you don't qualify for the program, choosing orthopedic shoes for seniors with diabetes that are A5500-approved can help you get the best protection for your feet.

1. Brooks Women's Ghost Max Running & Walking Shoe

Black Brooks women's walking shoe with fabric and synthetic upper and black rubber sole

This women's shoe is designed for comfort and stability. This shoe is perfect for both running and walking, offering a certified PDAC A5500 Diabetic shoe rating for added peace of mind. It features advanced forefoot cushioning for protective comfort, extending from the arch to the knee, enhancing the overall walking experience. The unique GlideRoll Rocker ensures smooth heel-toe transitions and a secure and stable landing without interfering with your stride. Raised sidewalls and a linear last construction promote a secure and inclusive fit. The Ghost Max benefits walkers by minimizing energy absorption in the foot's soft tissues, making every step feel effortless and supported. At the time of this writing, there were nine colors to choose from.

Buy on Amazon

2. Propet Women's Cush N Foot Slipper

Black Propet slip-on walking shoe with hook and loop closure

These soft, stretchy slippers are extremely comfortable shoes for elderly women. They have an extra-large opening with a Velcro closure, making them easy to open, slide on, and secure. While they're designed as house shoes, they have a rubber sole, making them suitable for use on a wide range of surfaces.

Buy on Amazon

3. Ortho+rest Men Diabetic Walking Shoes

With a non-slip sole, good traction, and excellent shock absorption, these walking shoes provide sturdy protection for avid walkers. The wide hook and loop closure makes it easy to adjust the fit, and the perforated upper provides a wide toe box and breathability. These men's shoes for diabetes include insoles that allow space to accommodate custom orthotics.

Buy on Amazon

4. Besroad Women's Wide Diabetic Walking Shoes

Black knit breathable shoe with double adjustable hook and loop strap design

These cute orthopedic shoes are both comfortable and supportive. They feature a double-adjustable hook-and-loop design, a breathable upper, and a wide toe box. The zero-drop sole of these barefoot walking shoes aligns the feet flat to the ground, promoting a natural walking posture and helping to maintain comfortable stability and balance during wear.

Buy on Amazon

5. BenSorts Pillow Sandals for Men & Women

This sandal's thick, soft EVA foam sole offers a cushion-like experience, essential for men and women with diabetes who require extra foot care to prevent injury. The design minimizes shock to the feet, an important consideration for diabetic individuals with sensitive feet or are prone to complications. Additionally, the padded, contoured footbed adapts to the shape of your foot for tailored comfort, which can help avoid pressure points. The double anti-slip features, with an interior dot-shaped design and a wave-shaped sole, ensure greater safety, which is crucial as those with diabetes need to avoid falls and injuries. These sandals are also well-suited for wet environments like showers and pools, offering stability and peace of mind in slippery conditions.

Buy on Amazon

Shoes for Seniors With Arthritis

For older adults with arthritis, wearing the wrong shoe can cause long-term damage to numerous joints. The best shoes for people with arthritis provide good arch support and extra cushioning. They are also typically designed to fit prescription or custom foot orthotics. Many of the diabetic shoes mentioned above will also work for adults with arthritis, but here are a few additional options you may want to consider:

1. Naturalizer Women's Idea Ballet Flat

Black faux leather women's slip-on ballet flat

These ballet flats are designed with comfort in mind, making them a suitable choice for women with arthritis. The slip-on style with elastic goring allows for an easy fit without bending and struggling with closures, which can be challenging for those with joint pain. Inside, the All-Thru Comfort includes features such as a soft foam lining and memory foam arch support, offering essential cushioning and support to the feet's arches. The outsole is lightweight and flexible, designed to facilitate movement and ease the strain on the feet during walking. With a low 1-inch heel, these shoes provide subtle elevation without compromising stability, ideal for maintaining comfort throughout the day.

Buy on Amazon

2. HEEZ Women's Pumps with Chunky Block Heel

Black vegan-friendly faux leather women's slip-on pumps with block heel

The HEEZ pump offers a blend of style and comfort that can be especially beneficial for women with arthritis. The fashion-forward design features a classic pointed silhouette with a modern block heel. The vegan-friendly materials are gentle on the skin, and the smooth lining and cushioned insole provide all-day comfort, a key consideration for those with arthritis seeking to minimize foot strain. Stability is enhanced with a sturdy 2-1⁄3 inch chunky heel, which helps maintain a comfortable posture, potentially alleviating joint stress. These pumps are versatile enough to dress up or down, making them suitable for a range of occasions.

Buy on Amazon

3. Men's OrthoComfort Slip On Loafers

Black canvas casual slip-on loafer and black rubber sole

OrthComfort men's loafers are designed to be breathable, with an insole that combines a TPU structure and PU memory foam base, delivering superior arch support and enhanced comfort. This design is especially beneficial for men with arthritis, as it helps to relieve pain in the foot and heel, allowing for a smoother, more comfortable walking experience. The latex metatarsal pad supports and reduces pressure and fatigue while massaging gel waves offer all-day shock absorption and comfort. Their EVA midsole and rubber outsole offer lightness, excellent traction, and stability. These features collectively support longer walks and relieve muscle fatigue, joint stress, and spinal pressure, which can be crucial for individuals with plantar fasciitis, flat feet, heel spurs, and other foot-related ailments often associated with arthritis.

Buy on Amazon

4. FitVille Men's Slip On Walking Shoes

Black mesh slip-on athletic shoe with white rubber sole

FitVille's Walking Shoes for men are engineered with ease and comfort in mind, particularly for those with arthritis. Their effortless slip-on design eliminates the need to bend down. This feature can significantly simplify the day for someone with mobility issues. The shoes are extra wide, offering ample room for the toes and a comfortable fit for those with wide feet or conditions such as diabetes, neuropathy, or plantar fasciitis. Lightweight construction makes these shoes ideal for all-day wear, providing relief and comfort for extended periods on your feet. They're practical for everyday tasks and offer maximum cushioning with a 1.2-inch heel lift and a shock-absorbent midsole, which can be so helpful for aching joints.

Buy on Amazon

5. Orthofeet Sandy Athletic Shoes

Gray athletic running shoe with breathable mesh upper and cushioned sole

These shoes were specifically designed to relieve joint stress and promote comfortable movement. They have a wide toe box, cushioned heel pad, and slip-resistant rubber sole. The upper is soft and non-binding, and the seamless foam lining offers excellent protection for arthritic feet.

Buy on Amazon

6. Mt. Emey Men's 9602

Need shoes for swollen feet? Elderly men may find comfort in these stretchable shoes that feature an expandable padded collar and a Velcro strap for closure. The soft upper includes a flex area to accommodate bunions, and the seam-free lining means you shouldn't have to worry about blisters.

Buy on Amazon

Find the Right Shoes

Whether you're seeking a comfy set of house slippers or a sturdy pair of walking shoes, there are a variety of great options to suit different tastes. Armed with the information and tips above, you can find the footwear that works best for you.