Dutch Classes Help Seniors Learn How to Fall Safely
Accidental falls are a leading cause of injury among seniors, however, a series of classes across the Netherlands seek to teach seniors not only how to avoid falling, but also how to fall safely.
These courses have been developed and taught by registered physio and occupational therapists over the past ten years as a result of the growing percentage of the Dutch population over 65 years. Of a population of roughly 3.2 million people, 18.5% are over the age of 65, an increase of 10.8% since the 1950’s. According to Christopher F. Schuetze, in 2016 there were 3884 deaths due to falls across the Netherlands, which experts attribute to inactivity, aging and the growing use of certain medications. Courses such as Vallen Verleden Tijd (or Falling is in the Past) have now become common place and are even covered by some forms of Dutch health insurance.
Participants, aged 65-94, navigate clinically developed obstacle courses designed to simulate common terrain that may result in falls, such as loose tiles and ramps. Over the weeks, students are gradually taught how to fall on mats to avoid injury.
Falling classes help build strength and confidence in the participants, being an important source of physical activity to help prevent the effects of frailty. The courses also provide seniors, many of which live alone, a place to joke, laugh and socialize as they learn.
For more information, including videos, visit:
Afraid of Falling? For Older Adults, the Dutch Have a Cure by Christopher F. Schuetze, New York Times.
Photography and video by Jasper Juinen can be found at Falling School for the Elderly.