Tai Chi for Seniors
Tai Chi for Seniors addresses the Number One Fear that seniors express; the fear of falling.
Falling down and being injured in the fall cost Americans about $12 billion in health care in 1996, and that cost was the impetus for studying ways to prevent falling.
Tai Chi was selected and taught to seniors as a means for improving and maintaining better balance, with a 47.5% decrease in falls and fall related injury and illness.
Behind the fear of falling, is the fear of losing independence in lifestyle. No one wants to be dependent on others for the simplest of needs, and in many cases, fear of falling causes people to lose confidence in their ability to go out of the house and interact with others, or simply to get fresh air and exercise. Tai Chi for Seniors maintains confidence in the ability to ,aintain independent lifestyle.
Becoming sedentary brings its own set of additional challenges to overall health and well being: lack of exercise causes muscles to weaken and atrophy, breathing difficulties begin to set in, and obesity goes hand in hand with less and less activity. The lack of social contact precipitates a lack of interest in life, depression sets in. Tai Chi for Seniors classes bring people out of their homes and provides a social context for exercise.
Tai Chi for Balance addresses the first fear first: The Fear of Falling.
When fear of falling becomes an issue, the sensations associated with loss of balance become terribly frightening, something to be avoided. These very sensations are the warnings our body passes to our brain, to trip the balance mechanisms into operation. The less these sensations are felt, the more danger one faces.
Tai Chi movement, and the principles associated with learning these movements take you through ranges of movement and to the edges of balance where these balance sensations occur. The movements and changes are not extreme, or difficult, and people who practice Tai Chi report feeling more confident in their daily activity. Moving in and out of balance, in a controlled, directed way is actually how the balance mechanism is “trained”. Tai Chi for Seniors trains the sense of balance.
Tai Chi training for balance focuses a great deal on the body sensations associated with doing the movements correctly…how should the body feel when it is held in “perfect” balance as opposed to moving out of balance.
Tai Chi training for balance focuses on being “relaxed” while moving in and out of balance, so that balance isn’t lost by anxiety, or the excess muscle tension generated when fear sets in. Breathing and muscle relaxation exercises help the learner to know when breath has become shallow, and when fearful muscle tightening occurs during the exercise.