TRENDING NOW: Older Adults Are Learning to Fall

Learning how to fall is an intervention not commonly heard of in aging services, but it has been making headway. In theory, older adults in the Netherlands are learning how not to fall, but their lessons also cover how to fall properly to avoid serious injury.

Those who work with older adults, including staff, researchers, and even family members, know how critical a single fall can be. The need for a different type of falls program came from alarming statistics: in the Netherlands, 3,884 people age 65 or older died because of a fall in 2016, representing a staggering 38% increase from years prior. To combat this looming number, different programs sprang up, including one started by a physiotherapist called Vallen Verleden Tijd (“Falling is in the past”) that offers three courses a year where older adults practice falling.

The class is unique because it includes an obstacle course that has been clinically designed for older adults to navigate without fear of falling, as well as education on how to fall properly if they needed. There are hundreds of similar courses across the Netherlands, each run by physio- and occupational therapists. Impressively, these falling courses are now rated by the government and partly covered by insurance.

The benefits of these courses go beyond the physical aspect; they are teaching older adults to eliminate fear by placing them in a safe environment. The manager of one program, Saskia Kloet, says that beyond the training, “there is also a very important social aspect.” Many older adults in the Netherlands are living alone, so an opportunity to laugh with one another as they are sprawled across the gym floor is also a delightful bonus.



Schuetze, C. Afraid of Falling? For Older Adults, the Dutch Have a Cure: The New York Times (2018). Accessed April 30, 2018.

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