|Tai Chi for Seniors
Finding new ways to assist residents at Selfhelp to remain active, healthy and engaged has long been part of the mission of Selfhelp. Recently, the home began offering seated tai chi classes twice a week for about one hour per class. There are two instructors, Renee Gatsis and Frank Sternberg, a current resident. Renee is certified by the Arthritis Foundation as well as the Tai Chi for Health Institute, and has been teaching tai chi for over 14 years. Frank and Renee have known each other for 30 years and were both students in the same tai chi school.
There are many styles of tai chi taught today and the form taught at Selfhelp is specially designed to meet the needs of elderly people and those with arthritis. Tai chi is performed by slowly and calmly moving and breathing through a series of movements which are collectively referred to as "the tai chi form."
Renee teaches Seated Tai Chi for Arthritis, which is the creation of Dr. Paul Lam, a practicing family physician and tai chi master with over 30 years of experience. The Arthritis Foundation has adopted Dr. Lam's Tai Chi for Arthritis Program, which has been taught in the United States for approximately 15 years and is estimated to have helped over a million people. The movements are performed while sitting in a chair and often, the participants require a walker or wheelchair for mobility.
What are the Benefits of Practicing Tai Chi as we Age?
Tai chi is one of the most effective exercises for the health of mind and body and is taught around the world. Tai chi helps people to relax and feel better. People practice tai chi for various health-related purposes, including:
- obtaining the benefits associated with low-impact, weight-bearing, aerobic exercise;
- improving physical condition, muscle strength, coordination, and flexibility;
- improving balance and decreasing the risk of falls;
- easing pain and stiffness;
- improving sleep; and overall wellness.
Harvard Medical School, in its May 2009 health publication, suggests that tai chi, which is often called meditation in motion, might well be referred to as "medication in motion," for in addition to preventing falls and reducing the effects of arthritis, the practice of tai chi has been shown to be helpful for a number of medical conditions including; low bone density, breast cancer and its side effects, heart disease and failure, hypertension, Parkinson's disease, sleep problems, and stroke.
Selfhelp Residents Enjoy the Benefits
Although the tai chi classes at Selfhelp started a short while ago, already residents are reaping the benefits of this soothing form of exercise. Here's what some of the participants had to say about the class:
"I have an advanced case of arthritis and try to exercise each morning. I appreciate the sitting tai chi class because it gives me the opportunity to exercise my shoulders, I look forward to the class and don't need to bring any equipment." Dorothy Urman, 94
"Standard exercise classes have always left me exhausted - too tired to even think. In the tai chi class, I rest when I need to rest. So I find myself wanting to continue with the program and participating without pushing myself and fading out." Betty Prichason, 92
Tai chi is especially suitable for older adults because its level of exertion can be adjusted for each individual. To learn more about Tai Chi for Arthritis, contact the Arthritis Foundation by calling 404-872-7100 or visit Dr. Lam's website at www.taichiforhealthinstitute.org.
The Selfhelp Home is a Jewish non-profit senior living community offering independent living, assisted living, long-term skilled nursing and rehabilitation care.
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Amanda and Karla,
Viola and Violin
Jeff & Janis,
Piano Trio with
Prism Chamber Ensemble
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