Seniors Choose Feel-Good Footwear

Senior citizens face a range of issues that affect their shoe choices. And while today’s septuagenarians and octogenarians are still concerned with looking good, the benefits of wider widths and Velcro often take precedence. Footwear News recently spoke with a few residents at a New Jersey retirement community — between their card and mahjong games — to discuss their shopping challenges. Topping their list: finding shoes that slip on and off easily.

1. Mildred Ostrowitz

Favorite brand: Skechers
Personal style: Velcro-close casuals
Footwear challenges: “For women my age, shoes have to be easy to get on and off, because bending can be difficult. When I do wear sneakers, they have to have elasticized laces.”
Shopping spot: “When I was in Florida, I found a pair of Skechers in a flea market. I got lucky.”

2. Florence Hart

Favorite brands: Payless, a therapeutic line
Personal style: Pumps, sneakers
Footwear challenges: “I’m a diabetic and [mostly] wear [therapeutic] shoes. I have two pairs: a white suede casual and a Mary Jane style.”
Shopping spot: “I get my therapeutic shoes at the podiatrist. I’m allowed one pair a year through Medicare.”

3. Hilda Farber

Favorite brands: Kmart, Sears private labels
Personal style: Casuals, pumps, sandals and ankle boots
Footwear challenges: “I have to have comfort. I like something I can slip into. I also like Velcro. [It makes shoes] easy to close when bending down.”
Shopping spots: Kmart, Sears

4. Shirley Lichter

Favorite brands: Easy Spirit, Rockport, Sears’ I Love Comfort
Personal style: “Mostly sneakers because I don’t get dressed up anymore.”
Footwear challenges: “Comfort. I need a wide width and usually find them at Sears. I also have Rockport sneaker looks.”
Shopping spot: Sears

5. Ruth Portnoy

Favorite brands: None
Personal style: Sandals, pumps
Footwear challenges: “I can’t wear sneakers, and anything with laces is out. I usually wear sandals in the summer because I have a problem with a protruding bone. However, when I visit family and need to dress up, I wear a low heel. The higher heel also comes in handy when trying to reach my air conditioner control buttons.”
Shopping spots: Mall stores

6. Ruth Kramer

Favorite brands: Naturalizer, among others
Personal style: “I need a heel with some stability. I have a balance problem common to older people.”
Footwear challenges: “I’ve found many manufacturers have changed their sizing, because shoes seem wider and longer. I used to wear a size 10 and now I wear a 9 1/2.”
Shopping spots: “I shop at discount stores such as T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s, where I look for brand names. Recently, I’ve been going to Kohl’s. They reduce brand-name shoes there.”

7. Marilyn Stagg

Favorite brands: Easy Spirit, among others
Personal style: “I like trendy looks. I consider myself very current. I especially like slip-ons.”
Footwear challenges: “I need a wide width, and it’s a big challenge. When I find a wide-width shoe, everything else falls into place. It’s hard to find shoes like these that are not old-lady styles. At this point, I’ve had two knee replacements and one hip. However, I still wear heels, but only as high as 2 inches. I prefer slip-ons because they are easy to put on.”
Shopping spots: “I buy wherever I can find shoes that [fit].”

8. Edith Spindler

Favorite brand: Dr. Scholl’s
Personal style: Velcro-close casuals on a low unit bottom
Footwear challenges: “I have trouble with my feet, and a wide width is very important. I don’t wear heels, only flats. And because I can’t bend down to tie a shoe, having Velcro is important. I have the same style in a wide range of colors.”
Shopping spot: “I shop exclusively from the Haband catalog, where I always find Dr. Scholl’s. In addition to a Velcro style, I recently bought a pair of Dr. Scholl’s silver sandals for my granddaughter’s wedding. They’re a crisscross slingback on a low heel.”

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