I was out with my mum for the first time in a while this week and I noticed, as we were walking along, that her posture is becoming quite stooped nowadays. No big surprises there, you might think - this often happens as people get older... but I was listening to the recording of a teleclass this morning and the presenter talked about how she had researched this very subject on behalf of her own elderly mother and discovered that this is not necessarily a skeletal problem.
Apparently, the constant wearing of shoes, slippers and socks, even indoors, can deaden the brain's sensitivity to the nerves in our feet. This leads an elderly person to look at their feet whilst walking because the brain isn't receiving the messages (about the positioning of the feet in relation to the ground) that younger, more sensitive feet would sent to it.
Just 30 days of barefoot walking around the house and up and down stairs for 30 minutes a day allows the nerve endings on the footpad to reconnect with the brain properly, which in turn allows elderly people to be able to feel what their feet are doing and allow them to straighten up and not feel the need to look at their feet as they walk.
I had no joy when I did an Internet search to see if I could find more information on the subject, but I'm going to mention it to both my mum and dad when I speak to them next, and I'm definitely going to be trying this myself. I'm not sure that my mum will act on my suggestion - she generally ignores my advice - but my dad, who's still a long-distance runner at 75, will definitely be up for it, I reckon!