Photo credit: https://osteoconnections.com/2014/12/02/taichi/
Age: 65- to 70-year-old
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Live alone or with family: Live with her husband
The most dangerous factors that cause you to fall: sidewalks
I had an interview with M who is 65- to 70-year-old. M used to fall frequently. However, M successfully reduces the frequency of falls after she started doing some exercises. In the last six months, she only fell two times.
I am going to summarize the reasons that cause M falls and what exercise M does can help her reduce the frequency of falls.
The reasons that cause M falls in the last six months: unaware and the environmental factors
One happened at home and the other happened outdoors. At that time, she was wearing loose socks and she turned around very fast and she stepped on the front of the socks. Thus, she fell on the floor.
The second time happened when she was walking down the stairs. Although she was holding somebody’s hand, it was too dark. She didn’t see exactly where are the stairs. Thus, the second fall happened. Fortunately, M didn’t have serious injury from the two falls.
M thinks the most dangerous factors that cause her to fall is sidewalks. Because sometime sidewalk is uneven or maybe it suddenly goes down and if she didn’t notice, she could fall. M thinks the uneven sidewalk is unexpected. On the stairs, she knows when she have to go down or up.
From M’s case, she didn’t aware that loose socks and dark environment could be risk factors. Sometimes, risk factors are easily to overlook and cause an unintentional event.
So, how could M reduce the frequency of falls?
The answer is Tai-Chi. M started going to a Tai-Chi class once a week (hour and half). She thinks Tai-Chi is helpful for her to reduce falls because Tai-Chi can improve her balance and muscle. Most importantly, the price is affordable for an elderly because the price changes according to each participant’s income. (The center M goes gets some donation from others.)
Why M started taking Tai-Chi Class?
M started taking the class because a friend whose daughter was in the class recommended it and she also knew two other women who were in the class. It has been two or three years since M started going to the class. And, yes, she feels safer now. M says "In class we imagine that our feet go two feet down into the earth, so I do the same when I am walking outside."
Tai-Chi is a slow, smooth, and continuous movements exercise. How can those slow movements help strengthen balance control and coordination?
According to the Harvard Health Blog, those who did Tai-Chi were stronger and had much better balance than those who did strength-building exercises or stretching. In fact, their balance is about two times better than those in the resistance-training group and four times better than those in the stretching group.