Confused child with many shoe horn options to the side

The best shoe horn for older adults

The leisure years are a wonderful opportunity to pursue new activities, a long neglected passion, spend meaningful time with the family and the community. However, as we age, our health and wellbeing can change, and this can prevent us from enjoying these years as we should - joints become stiffer and less flexible, we can experience back and neck pain, knee and hip problems, conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, other limiting conditions, or combinations thereof!

A little extra support can help us get up, out and about as we always have. Shoe horns are one of those gadgets that can get us on the move. The right shoe horn can prevent pain and strain when bending to put shoes on and prevent falls. It's simple, but meaningful, and helps older adults to maintain confidence in their independence.

With so many shoehorn options available, how do you choose the best one? Let's explore the different types of shoe horns that are most suitable for older adults and highlight the features that make them the ideal choice.

What is the best shoe horn for older adults?

Without a doubt, long-handled shoe horns are the best option. They provide an extended reach that removes the need to bending or overreaching. The long handle allows us to easily slide on shoes while standing upright or sitting, making it a versatile option for individuals with mobility limitations.

Typically, a shoe horn is considered "long" if it measures at least 60cm (24"). 60cm may be about as long as you could go if using in the seated position as well without adjusting where you hold the long handle. Long handled shoe horns would typically measure 66cm (26") - 94cm (37") in length. There are many types, materials and designs and these need to be considered in combination with individual needs. So let's take the guesswork out choosing the right long shoe horn and discuss the pros and cons of each as you consider the best shoe horn choice.

#4 long-handled plastic shoe horns

black and blue long plastic shoe horns leaning against a wall

Plastic shoe horns are light and easy to use, they're generally the cheapest option and come in a range of bright colours. Some plastic shoe horns have a hook on the other end, doubling to help take socks off. The thin shape can make grasping a little difficult and uncomfortable for arthritic hands, however the lighter weight may be most suitable for people with weaker wrists and grip. With the length that is required for a long shoe horn for older adults, a plastic shoe horn may break if stood on at an unusual angle or over time with general use. Plastic shoe horns scratch and scuff over time and this can results in catching on socks or damage to shoes.

Pros Cons
✓ light weight for weaker grip or wrist problems ✗ thin shape can be difficult or uncomfortable to grasp for arthritic hands
✓ cheaper option ✗ looks cheap
✓ light weight ✗ not very durable
✓ bright colours ✗ scuff and catch on socks
✓ can come with a sock remover on the other end
✓ unlikely to damage anything if it falls


Long-handled plastic shoe horns can be purchased in Australia through stores such as Ikea.

#3 long-handled wooden shoe horns

Wooden shoe horns are a stylish shoe horn option. When crafted well, they are smooth and comfortable on the hands and offer a stable option for sliding into shoes. A quality long-handled wooden shoe horn is durable and a pleasure to use. It's important to find a wooden shoe horn that can be hung up, or to have somewhere suitable that they can be placed as they can slide over. A shoe horn with a strong integrated magnetic is particularly convenient without the need to navigate about a hook. With a loop at the end, a wrist strap can be added if needed.

Pros Cons
✓ stylish ✗ the more expensive option
✓ soft on the hands, can be gripped ✗ need to ensure high quality craftsmanship
✓ can come with an integrated magnet for hook-free mounting
✓ stable and durable
✓ won't bend, snap or warp
✓ eco-friendly option


The long wooden shoe horn is particularly popular and well-received a gift. We stock one here that you might like at The Independence Shop.

#2 long metal shoe horn

Certainly the most robust and durable option, the metal shoe horn is an excellent choice when it comes to long-handled shoe horns and daily use. As it is so strong, the long metal shoe horn is the most suitable choice for someone who has less stability. Metal shoe horns can be ergonomically designed with a thick handle and a shape that supports a close position to the heel. Quality metal shoe horns are polished to a smooth texture, and the foot slides into the shoe with ease. The thick handle supports arthritic and unstable hands, however, do consider the weight if grip strength is a problem. Again, with a loop at the end, a wrist strap can be added if needed.

Pros Cons
✓ robust and durable ✗ need to ensure a quality make
✓ can come with an ergonomic thick handle ✗ can fall onto something and cause damage
✓ won't bend, snap or warp ✗ heavy to grasp and hold
✓ most suitable for someone with less stability


You may like to have a look at the long metal shoe horn with a thick ergonomic hand that we stock here at The Independence Shop.

#1 extendable long shoe horn


Topping our list for the best shoe horn for older adults is the extendable long shoe horn! Super convenient and versatile, the right extendable (telescopic) shoe horn can extend to an impressive 94cm (37") and is adjustable down to a length that suits putting on shoes in a seated position. This is great for all heights and needs. A perfect fit for packing in a bag for travel and taking out the home to various activities that require a shoe change such as dancing, bowling and visiting friends and relatives. The right extendable long shoe horn should have a thick padded handle for easy gripping, and a metal tongue for durability and a smooth slide on of the shoe.


Pros Cons
✓ adjustable to various lengths ✗ requires twist action to lock into place
✓ can come with a thick handle to grip ✗ many variations are available, check carefully for the functions
✓ can come with a metal tongue  
✓ light weight
✓ can be stored for travel and use with outdoor activities
✓ reasonably priced


The Extendable Long Shoe Horn is the most popular choice by customers of The Independence Shop.

And there you have it! When it comes to choosing the best shoe horn for older adults, it's essential to consider individual needs along with the appropriate long-handled shoe horn. Long shoe horns help us get out and about, an important part of staying healthy. By investing in a high-quality long shoe horn, older adults maintain their independence, reduce the risk of injuries, and enjoy the comfort and ease of putting on their shoes effortlessly. Extra long shoe horns can make donning shoes a "walk in the park"!

The Independence Shop - a meaningful way to help our loved ones stay active and independent. Find all daily living aids, practical products, and useful gifts in one Australian shop!

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Image credit: 
Anonymous-Bosch CC2.0 Deed. Image has been modified.


Walston JD (2020). Common clinical sequelae of aging. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 22.

World Health Organization (2022). Ageing and health