Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speaks!

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman
2 min readAug 21, 2023

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Topic: Proper Footwear for the Elderly to Prevent Falls

Flip-Flops… A True NO-NO!

I had a great 3-week vacation, but I could not seem to turn my proactive caregiver advocacy eyes and ears off, while on vacation. Watching a family with an elderly loved one at the grocery store, I saw a disturbing and scary situation. Flip-flops were on the feet of this person. Dangerous!

I surmised by the way the family member was leading and assisting the loved one, they had some form of memory, nervous system condition, or a cognitive disconnect. Conditions that came to mind watching this situation were Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and Dementia. All of these conditions can have problems with ambulating(walking). Because of this, footwear is very vital.

All(Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and Dementia) do not just affect the intellect — they can have an impact on mobility. Generally, the symptoms of these diseases focused solely on cognitive decline and impairments in memory and language. Gait changes and walking behavior must be a high priority and proper footwear becomes essential. The motion of walking is often taken for granted because we usually don’t think about it, but when caring for loved ones, we must put ourselves in their place for safety’s sake.

If loved ones are experiencing shuffling gait, noted by dragging feet or hesitation in stepping, or are stuck in movement, a slow walking pace often associated with dementia and cognitive decline in our loved ones, secure footwear is necessary.

Determine Walking Concerns-Watch how your loved one is walking around the house. For any obvious changes of pace, stride, speed, hesitation, or cues to step, proper footwear is required.

Types of Footwear-Any kind of orthopedic shoe may offer a secure fit. Velcro shoes can help make shoes more comfortable and easier to get on and off. Shoes should also help with balance problems. To ensure you get a proper fit, consider consulting a podiatrist, whose focus is footwear for the elderly. Do not buy online. Take your loved one into a store to try on shoes for proper fit.

As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, know that wearing inappropriate, ill-fitting shoes is a contributing factor to falls, broken bones, and even death. Flip-Flops are a NO-NO! Footwear must accommodate the safety of our loved ones. Yes, I did share my concerns! Be Safe! Be Well!

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Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman

Dr. Hickman is the author of From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor and The Black Book of Important for Caregivers.