“The best gifts you can give this Christmas are good health and independence. New slippers for a loved one or neighbour will not only help to avoid falls but will keep their feet warm during winter.” – NHS Wales
Three of the key areas of health affected by footwear are:
Around 500 people over the age of 65 need emergency hospital treatment as a result of falls every month in Cardiff and the Vale, and old, worn or poorly fitting footwear is one of the main causes.
Many older people wear inappropriate footwear both inside and outside the home, choosing soft or flexible styles for comfort and to accommodate swelling, pain or foot conditions. However, wearing very loose shoes or slippers, or choosing to wear only socks puts people at higher risk of falling.
This is why Cardiff and Vale NHS Board, in partnership with Age Connects, developed the #slippersforchristmas campaign. Slippers for Christmas aims to spread awareness of the importance of proper footwear and encourages friends and relatives of older people to buy them slippers for Christmas.
If you want to buy a safer pair of slippers for a loved one, here are the key features to look for:
People with diabetes are at higher risk of vascular disease, which can cause issues with circulation in the legs. Diabetes can also cause oedema (swelling) in the legs and feet and neuropathy, which can cause numbness and pain in the feet.
Proper footwear can, therefore, be a crucial element of diabetes care. Shoes that aren’t wide enough can be uncomfortable and difficult to put on with swollen feet or legs, but tight shoes can cause more serious issues too.
Feet can be pressed and rub against the sides of an improperly fitted shoe, which can lead to corns, calluses, blisters or bunions. Any form of damage like this is potentially dangerous to anyone with diabetic neuropathy as injuries can easily go unnoticed and lead to ulcers.
The right slippers or shoes can – unsurprisingly – make all the difference in foot pain and foot conditions. Bunions, hammer toe, corns and calluses, plantar fasciitis and metatarsalgia are just some examples of foot conditions that can be either improved or made worse just with footwear.
Shoes or slippers that are too tight or the wrong shape can put pressure on different parts of the foot and cause or worsen pain and discomfort, while footwear that is correctly fitted can reduce pressure and friction and help keep bones and ligaments in proper alignment, reducing pain and promoting better foot health.