ISHPEMING - Pam Derocher had a message for her audience at the Ishpeming Senior Center: The right shoes and boots can make all the difference, especially during winter months.
Derocher, from U.P. Rehab Services, presented a program called "If the Shoe Fits" at the center recently. The emphasis was to get seniors thinking about the importance of taking care of their feet, not just for health, but for safety.
"Every year, you put approximately 1,000 miles on your feet," Derocher said. "And walking places 1 million pounds of pressure on your body in one hour. So it's important to take care of your feet by choosing shoes and boots carefully."
Pam Derocher of U.P. Rehab Services places her hand in foam to demonstrate how the material captures its shape. This foam can be used to make orthotics for shoes to help make the fit better. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)
As with many other things, feet change with age.
"You should measure your feet regularly when looking for footwear," Derocher said. "As you age, you have bigger feet and wider feet. And sometimes your arches can fall."
Sizing can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so trying shoes/boots on is key.
Derocher said it's important to get that right fit right away.
"You should wait until the end of the day to shop for shoes or boots. You want to try them on after you've been on your feet," she said. "And the shoes should be comfortable from the moment you put them on. Don't expect to 'break them in' as you can be miserable if you try to do that.
"And you should stand up and walk around in the shoes for a bit before you purchase them. You have to make sure the fit is good," Derocher said.
An option for those who have continuing foot problems is orthotics, she said. Derocher brought along a sample to demonstrate how some orthotics are put together. She opened a box from a company called Sole Supports and pushed her hand into the foam.
"You would do this with your foot and send it in to the company," Derocher said. "What they'd send back would fit your foot securely."
Using an orthotic would most likely mean the shoe or boot in which they are placed would be a half-size larger than what might normally be worn.
"Orthotics can help the back and everything else," said Elyse Bertucci, Ishpeming Senior Citizens Center director. "I find that the older I get, the more support I need."
Derocher said a number of companies make orthotics, so seniors can shop around for a deal that suits them.
One of the workshop attendees had advice of his own to offer.
"A month ago I slipped and fell," said Toivo Maki of Ishpeming. "If I'd had these, it would have happened."
The "these" he was referring to are Yaktrax Maki has now attached to his boots. Yaktrax are devices designed to give better traction on snow and ice as an aid to prevent slipping and falling. There are several different varieties.
"I would definitely recommend these," Maki said.
For more information on these devices, visit www.yaktrax.com.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.