The Problem We Should All Be Talking About

Frequent falls are NOT a normal part of aging. This isn't inevitable and we should be spending more time talking about how to prevent them in the first place.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.
Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash

What comes to mind when you think of aging?

Due to the stereotypes perpetuated by rampant ageism in our society, most of us don’t associate aging with positive images. 

But, aging doesn’t have to be negative. 

Our mission as therapists is to change the way people think of aging. When we have clients come in, initially we only hear about the downsides of aging. The difficulty with walking. The loss of strength. Chronic pain. And one of the topics no one walks to talk about, balance issues and falls. 

The first point we want to highlight is that none of the above have to be a normal part of aging! And if you are experiencing balance problems or falls, start talking to someone about them right this minute. With our aging population, this is an issue that has a major impact on the health trajectory of the country in multiple ways.

The Real Cost of Not Talking About Falls

In 2015, the costs directly related to fall injuries in older adults totaled over $31 billion to Medicare alone. That’s right. $31 billion. And this does not include costs to other insurance companies or all the secondary costs that come as a result of falls, including the need for more services and specialized care or having to move a family member into a facility from their home.

Let’s take a further look at the numbers.

One out of every four adults over the age of 65 falls each year. Having one fall doubles the risk of having another. Adults over the age of 75 are the highest risk group for recurrent head injuries due to repeated falls.

These are staggering statistics and impact each and every one of us, regardless of age. As a greater proportion of our population ages, these numbers are expected to rise. The burden of this preventable problem falls on family members, younger generations, and our already taxed healthcare system.

What We Can Do About It

First, we should clarify: falls are NOT a normal part of aging. Everyone falls, but excessive falls become a major problem. When you throw other chronic conditions into the mix, such as diabetes and osteoporosis that increase the risk of severe injuries with falls, the problem is compounded.

Falls are not fun to talk about, so they often go unreported to health care providers. And pride often gets in the way.

They may also go under-reported because there can be some confusion around the definition of a fallSo, to clarify a fall is defined as ANY uncontrolled descent. Even if you caught yourself on a chair or a piece of furniture, it’s still a fall. Even if you don’t think you injured yourself, it’s still a fall.

It’s vital that we begin to talk more about falls and erase the stigma around talking about falls. Today. Because we can’t solve a problem that isn’t being talked about.

A Little More About Falls 

The list of risk factors for falls is extensive and includes anything from fear of falling, to footwear choices, to certain medications.

The solution to preventing falls is simple in theory, but not so easy to implement. Staying physically active throughout the lifespan is the first step in falls prevention. More and better movement is the answer.

However, this solution puts more responsibility on the person, an active solution rather than a passive one. In a medical system where passive interventions are pushed heavily, including medication and surgery, it can be difficult to start the conversation on taking ownership of our health but that is exactly what’s needed. 

So What Can You Do?

If you have no concerns about falling, get on and off the floor every day as much as possible! Pay more attention to your movement and the variety of your movement. Find ways to challenge your balance every single day.

The next step is to talk to your loved ones about falls. If you have concerns, reach out to health care providers for help. Trained movement professionals, such as physical or occupational therapists are an essential part of developing plans to keep people active safely. How can you facilitate this important conversation today?

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


10 Quotes to Change Your Perception of Aging

by Brittany Denis, PT, DPT, CPT-RES

Do You Want to Live Forever?

by Wayne Delfino
Don’t Let Stress Age You: Whole Body Considerations

Don’t Let Stress Age You: Whole Body Considerations

by Larry Alton

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.