ElderlyTai Chi

Tai chi lowers the risk of falls in the elderly

Here’s why this is important.

  • Deaths from falls increase dramatically with age
  • Falls account for 70% of accidental deaths in people over 74 years old
  • Associated with significant illnesses
  • More than 90% of hip fractures occur as a result of falls — in people over 70 years of age
  • One-third of community-dwelling elderly people and 60% of nursing home residents fall each year

Here’s evidence that tai chi helps.

Among 256 healthy physically inactive older adults between 70 and 92 years of age, some participated in a 6-month program of tai chi, while the rest took part in a stretching exercise program. The groups were then followed for an additional 6 months, with the following significant results in the tai chi group.

  • Fewer falls
  • Fewer injurious falls
  • Reduced risk for multiple falls
  • Improvements in all measures of functional balance, physical performance, and reduced fear of falling
  • Gains in these measures were maintained at a 6-month follow-up in the tai chi group

Several years ago, I wrote an article about tai chi. Even then, the benefits were clear, and justified its use among senior citizens. These updated findings support that recommendation today.

10/14/06 15:59 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.