Waking up in the morning with stiff fingers makes pulling on and fastening shoes, shoelaces, ties or buckles a difficult chore. There are lots of options that take the difficulty out of donning shoes if you just give a bit of thought to what you need and make the necessary adjustments.
Shoes You Already Own
First, look at the shoes you already have. Slip-ons should be the easiest to put on since they have no fasteners. You may need a shoe-horn to help, but don't use those 4" ones that require you bend double to reach your heel. Look for a long-handled one you can use while standing. This one is 25" long and was a promotional give-away to advertise an arthritis drug.
For lace-ups, you can avoid tying and untying knots simply by changing out the type of shoelaces used. My rheumatologist provided curly-cue elastic shoelaces that use their elastic "spring" to turn laced shoes into pull-ons. Pull them taught to pull them through eyelets most easily.
I found some of these at my local WalMart by Shoe Gear/Rhode Island Textile Company called "Why tie? Shoelaces". These are elastic curly-cue shoelaces that I just have to pull on to tighten â€“ No tying knots or bows!
Of course, I wouldn't go running or participate in sports or athletic activities with these because they don't hold the shoe firmly enough for those situations. But for situations where a "slip-on" shoe is appropriate, they save me from tying and untying which I can no longer do easily. This old pair of sneakers I use for garden shoes just require that I grab their corkscrew ends, and pull to tighten.
Purchasing New Shoes
For SNEAKERS, I can get the ease of slip-ons with the standard sneaker appearance by finding athletic shoes manufactured with elastic bands rather than laces. These are from Skecher. They are a bit harder to get on that those tied with the corkscrew laces above, but hold more firmly to the foot.
SLIP-ONS are another good choice to spare arthritic fingers. They are the easiest shoe for me to put on and pull off. I take extra care to make sure they fit well so that my feet aren't constantly stepping out of them. This photo shows a pair of slip-ons from Skechers that I really like because they have an elastic band across the top of the foot that helps the shoe stay on. I find that extra bit of security makes the shoe more comfortable for me and is no more trouble to put on because it is elastic (the buttons on the side are just for show.)
In my opinion, a slip-on that slips off when I don't want it to is absolutely unacceptable. When I have slip-ons that too easily slip off, I end up sort of gripping them with my arthritic toes, trying to keep them on. My feet become cramped, my toes hurt. It is not worth it. When I purchase slip-ons, I take extra care to find slip-ons that fit well and are not cut so open that they don't stay on my feet.
My favorite type of shoe is one with VELCRO fasteners. These are easy to get on and off, but stay on better than slip-ons. Because they use Velcro as a fastener, they are adjustable. I you aren't familiar with Velcro fasteners, they consist of two pieces of fabric, one with plastic "hooks" and the other with soft loops. When pressed together, the hooks catch and hold the two pieces of fabric together until they are pulled apart.
These shoes that I bought at Skechers have velcro fastenings and look very much like shoes worn by local ladies I met on my trip to China. I have had them for years and the velcro fastenings still hold.
Velcro-closure shoes are widely available. I have a pair of "bicycle shoes" from Wal-Mart with velcro closures that are great for puttering around the house.
So remember that these options are available when you are shopping for shoes. Tell the salesman you need shoes that close with velcro, elastic or are slip-on. Refuse to look at shoes that have complicated closings or fasteners that would be difficult for you to use. Once you try them on, the salesman has a lot easier time talking you into buying something that would not be a good choice in the long run. Putting on shoes is a daily task. The easier it is, the better your day will be.