Balance is an extremely important part of wellness, especially in the senior population.  Seniors tend to have falls more frequently than the younger population because functions such as their reflexes, reaction time, muscle mass, and vision have changed. An alarming one third of seniors over the age of 65 fall each year and over half of seniors over the age of 80 fall each year2.  These shocking statistics could be lowered by practicing balance through exercise to decrease the chance of a fall.

Tai Chi Helps Reduce Falls in Senior PopulationAt Plymouth Harbor we offer two beneficial balance classes to help improve overall balance and reduce the risk of falling for our residents.  The two classes that we offer are Better Balance, which meets every Monday and Friday from 10:45-11:15 a.m. and Tai Chi, which meets every Thursday from 9:00-9:30 a.m.   Better Balance is a fall prevention class that combines static and dynamic balance exercises to improve coordination, posture, and balance. Tai Chi is a form of exercise that combines slow, controlled, meditative, standing movements that improve posture, coordinated movement, and balance.

A study performed in one senior living community looked at the benefits that Tai Chi had on its residents1.  There were 17 residents that participated in a 60 minute Tai Chi class 3 times a week for 12 weeks1.  All residents were 65 years of age or older, 7 residents used walkers and 10 residents used canes1.  The residents’ balance and strength were assessed one week before starting and one week after finishing the Tai Chi program by using four assessments.1

Results showed that the residents performed significantly better on the post test compared to the pre test, concluding that Tai Chi can increase a person’s balancing capability and decrease their risk of falling1.

Balance is an important skill to practice and it cannot be practiced enough.  All residents are welcome to join us in the group fitness room during Better Balance and Tai Chi to help improve their balance and minimize their risk of falling.

Reference List

1. Hao L, Connors M, Grando V, Liu H, Wedam L, Blake H. Tai Chi intervention for older adults using assistive devices in a senior living community…including commentary by Wedam LM and Blake H. International Journal Of Therapy & Rehabilitation [serial online]. March 2012;19(3):136-143. Available from: CINAHL Plus with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed June 18, 2013.

2. PR N. Independent Living and Safety For Seniors – Guidebook Offered by American Senior Services, Inc.  PR Newswire US [serial online]. June 14, 2013: Available from: Points of View Reference Center, Ipswich, MA. Accessed June 19, 2013.