Tai Chi Quan: Moving for Better Balance, Designed to Reduce Older Adults’ Risk of Falling, held Mondays at the Library Annex in Sapulpa

Every year in Oklahoma, approximately 7,000 older adults are hospitalized and more than 350 die from a fall
According to a report by the Injury Prevention Service – Oklahoma State Department of Health, most fall injuries happen in predictable, preventable ways. Most falls happen in homes and are entirely preventable. Simple changes such as lighting, furniture arrangement and housekeeping can make older adults less susceptible to falling in their homes.

Health conditions, such as hip or bone weakness, arthritis and blood pressure fluctuation can cause older adults to be more prone to falls. Those suffering from neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer’s disease are also at an increased risk for falling.

The Creek County Literacy Program, in conjunction with the Creek County Health Department, is pleased to announce new class dates for their program designed to reduce older adults’ risk of falling.

The starting date for the Library Annex Tai Chi Program is Monday, January 5 at 10am. The first class will begin with a discussion on Tai Chi, including a question and answer session. The one-hour classes will be held for 12 weeks. The Library Annex is located at 15 North Poplar Street in Sapulpa.

Tai Chi Quan: Moving for Better Balance is a free program geared towards adults 65 years of age and older. “It is encouraged for anyone over 45 years of age,” shares Tai Chi Instructor Gina Wozencraft, of the Creek County Health Department. “The purpose of the program is to improve one’s balance and reduce the likelihood of falling. Studies have shown that Tai Chi improves muscular strength, balance, postural control, and reduces the older adults’ risk of falling by 47 to 55%, as well as reducing the risk of falls by Parkinson’s Disease patients by 67%. The eight forms in this program are all derived from the traditional, well-known 24-form Yang style Tai Chi, which has been tailored to older adults wishing to improve balance and mobility,” she explained.

Research evidence shows falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries in every age group except ages 15 to 24 and are the leading cause of injury death among adults 65 years and older in the United Sates.

Many people who fall, even if they are not injured, develop a fear of falling. This fear may cause them to limit their activities, leading to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, which in turn increases their actual risk of falling.

MS sufferer Jo Beth Force says, “In one-and-a-half years, Tai Chi has made a big difference in reducing my risk of falls due to MS. The slow movements helps me concentrate on utilizing my mind and body when walking, twisting and turning. I definitely have expanded my range of movement and flexibility while remaining stable and balanced. It is fun and relaxing too!”

Susan Abbe, who has practiced Tai Chi for over two years, says, “I consider this my main form of exercise. It’s fun because it is kind of like dancing. It helps keep my mind focused while helping with improved mobility and definitely more stability.”

“In the four years I’ve been teaching, I always enjoy watching the participants grow and flourish, gaining confidence as we go through the eight forms,” says Wozencraft. “It is absolutely priceless when participants are eager to share with me and others the difference they see how this program has helped them personally, whether it’s with their stamina, balance, coordination, and how it’s improving their daily lives. We have fun, we laugh, and I love when they return to sign up for another full session. I teach as many as six locations, and though the class is geared for a 65 year old person, I have participants ranging anywhere between 60 to over 80 years attending class. They’re so active and enjoy what this Tai Chi program brings them,” she said.

First timer Jacque Case loves Tai Chi. “It has helped with my stability and definitely with my balance. I no longer shuffle as I walk, but pick up my feet and walk heel-toe, heel-toe now. The concentrated and slow movements have improved my reaching and stretching in daily activities. PLUS … I lost weight!”

Instructor Gina added, “I can’t thank the Literacy office enough for hosting these classes. It’s an ideal location in Sapulpa. Most of my classes have 10 to 12 participants, but CCLP’s normal class size is 20 to 25! I have seen many friendships form at the literacy office, and have seen participants connect with other activities such as tutoring! Love it!”

The 12 week Tai Chi program is being offered at no cost to area residents. This free event is a health literacy outreach project of Creek County Literacy Program, the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, with funding provided by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. No prior sign-ups are required to attend class. For more information or to register, call 918-224-9647.

Flyer – Tai Chi Jan 2015 dates