Stand tall, balance and smile: That’s Tai Chi for seniors By: Anne Marie Gattari 06.04.2012
Rosemary Samarjian of Grosse Pointe Park discovered Tai Chi about four years ago. She was 79. Since, she has been taking weekly classes and reports feeling more limber, more youthful and “sharper.” She maintains a part-time job, driving an elderly neighbor to appointments and errands.
An abundance of medical research links physical and mental well-being in the elderly with Tai Chi. And if that’s not proof enough, the perpetual smile on Rosemary’s face while she talks about her love of the “sport” should do it. Using gentle flowing movements, Tai Chi is sometimes described as “meditation in motion.” Its advocates say it promotes serenity, reduce stress, strengthens balance and strength and is just plain fun. Elaine Frost and James Ellis, local attorneys, began their Tai Chi practice many years ago as a way to improve their health and better handle the demands and speed of their careers. Now, they teach. Soft spoken, gentle – also wearing perpetual smiles – Elaine and James teach weekly classes to students of all ages. Many elderly attend their classes and they are happy to see it. “Even when you start as a beginner, the benefits are felt quickly,” Elaine says. “You must concentrate on the motions. It requires focus, yet is relaxing. And it becomes a sort of meditation.” Over the years,
The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society has published results of important studies showing that Tai Chi can address two of the most important issues facing our seniors: depression and risk of falling. The first study, conducted at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, found that older people taking part in a 15-week Tai Chi program reduced their risk of falling by 47.5 percent. The research participants who took Tai Chi classes were found to walk better. They took more deliberate and slower steps. And just as important, their fear of falling was reduced. Another study was conducted at UCLA. It showed that weekly Tai Chi classes, when combined with a standard depression treatment program of meds and health education class, helped depressed elderly experience an improved quality of life, better memory and cognition, and more overall energy — than a different group that was treated only with meds and a weekly health education class.
These and other studies are reason enough to enroll our parents in Tai Chi classes. Many senior citizen centers also have Chair Tai Chi. And I suggest as you’re enrolling your parents or grandparents, enroll yourself while you’re at it.
Go here for a list of local classes. Anne Marie Gattari is owner of BrightStar of Grosse Pointe / Macomb. Contact her via email.
Geelong tai chi can be contacted by email firstname.lastname@example.org