If you dance with me, I will dance with you

But, for this to be, we must dance as two

Three steps forward…two steps back

Time moves quickly, stay on track

Dancing to the tune of life

Don't give up because of strife

Put one foot before the next

Quest for shoes that feel the best

Once upon a time, there lived in the land of "Where Comfort Meets Fashion" a young Nobleman and his Princess who loved to dance. Together…morning, noon and night they danced the hours, days, weeks, months and years away…until one day, as elders, they both realized they could no longer dance for as long, nor as comfortably as in prior times. Not understanding the reason for their aches and pains, they sought the counsel of a Great Wizard who examined them very carefully.

"Low and behold," the Great Wizard stated, "I believe you have arthritis…a disease of the joints." And, so began the quest for the elders to find the perfect shoe—comfortable, functional, yet without sacrificing fashion.

In present day, the Arthritis Foundation has made great strides in explaining what it means to be diagnosed with arthritis. However, even in our current day and age, there exist various falsehoods that need to be remedied. The Arthritis Foundation outlines these as follows:

Myth: Arthritis is not a major health problem.

Truth: Arthritis places a growing burden on the health care and economic systems in this country and throughout the world. Two of the most common diseases that define arthritis in the elderly are:

  • Osteoarthritis (OA): the most common form of arthritis. A progressive degenerative joint disease characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage and associated with variable risk factors, such as being overweight or obese, having a history of joint injury and age.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): a systemic disease described as swelling of the membranes lining the joint, thereby causing stiffness, warmth, pain, inflammation and even severe joint damage.

Myth: Individuals with arthritis must avoid exercising.

Truth: Exercise is actually beneficial; a necessary and important factor for battling arthritis. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "There is strong evidence indicating that both endurance and resistance types of exercise provide considerable disease-specific benefits for people with osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatic conditions."

Myth: Arthritis is a condition that is characterized by small pains and aches arising only when one gets older.

Truth: Although arthritis affects the majority of the elderly, the disease is actually a multifaceted group of musculoskeletal disorders, comprising hundreds of complex diseases that can affect individuals of all ages, races and genders.

Myth: There is very little that can be done for arthritis.

Truth: Relief is available through nutrition, exercise and medication. Cutting-edge treatments are anticipated to become obtainable for the general public in the very near future.

If the shoe fits…

Now that we have a better understanding of arthritis as a disease, let us continue our quest to discover the perfect shoe for elders suffering from this debilitating condition.

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Tamara Sowa, the well-informed Client Service Representative at the corporate location and Beverly Hills Store for Euro-Comfort Footwear, which specializes in footwear, designed for men and women of all ages, but particularly for those older individuals with arthritis and other medical conditions. She answered a few key questions about how to shop for shoes for someone with arthritis:

Q: What type of information, services and products does Euro-Comfort Footwear provide to the elderly suffering from arthritis?

A: "We understand how challenging and frustrating it can be to find a great pair of comfortable shoes, especially when painful conditions come into the picture, and we strive to carry something for everyone. With regards to arthritis, it is rather painful regardless of where the arthritis is located (hip, foot, knee), and shoes with soft cushioning, support, a wider toe box, and/or adjustability will be best to alleviate this pain."

Q: Are elder arthritis sufferers ever referred to your store by their doctors or medical providers?

A: "Yes, absolutely. We receive patient referrals—not just locally in Southern California, but from all over the world—from the medical community, especially podiatrists, on a daily basis. And, when choosing footwear for a specific issue such as arthritis, it is always best to follow the doctor's suggestions and recommendations. Oftentimes, an orthotic may come into the picture and thus finding a shoe with a removable insole to accommodate the orthotic becomes the most important task; or there may be other physical ailments or conditions involved. In any case, finding the best shoe is a matter of trying on several pairs, whether you have arthritis or not."

Q: Would it be correct to state that the more cushioning a shoe has, the better that shoe might be for an arthritis sufferer?

A: "While a shoe with a lot of cushioning might be wonderful for one person, another may need a deeper toe box and a bit more arch support to really feel comfortable. It is always best to go into the shoe store with an open mind and to just try on a variety of shoe styles to hone in on what works the absolute best. Our feet change as we age, and, along with new technologies and materials being used in modern footwear, there is no way to tell how something will fit and feel just by looking at it."

Q: What shoes would you recommend for an elderly person with arthritis?

A: "I would say one of our best selling shoes has been the "LS" from Arcopedico. These shoes are extremely lightweight, crafted in Portugal with a mesh upper, and offer support via their contoured foot-bed. We stock them in 11 colors and they retail for $100. We have sold over 2400 pairs, many to women with every foot problem, including arthritis of the feet, hips and knees. Another brand that has worked tremendously well for people seeking more cushioning has been BeautiFeel. Their shoes are crafted in Israel and use memory foam in their foot-beds, along with latex outsoles for shock absorption. They have casual to dressy styles, but tend to fit medium to narrow feet better. There are several other brands that sell well for our elderly clientele; Mephisto, Ecco, Finn Comfort, and Naot. All are European companies that offer cushion, support, removable insoles, and adjustable features and I would absolutely try on several styles from each."

As we continue our journey on this quest to find the perfect shoe for those elders suffering from arthritis, we come to that part of the story where the ending is near—and it is a happy ending indeed. May all of your dreams and wishes come true as you shop at Euro-Comfort Footwear or your local neighborhood shoe store for the perfect shoe, and may it bring you the relief that you are seeking from arthritis so that you may dance…dance…dance!