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It happens so fast. One minute you’re walking along … and the next you’re looking up at the ceiling wondering what just happened. Falling only takes seconds. But it’s not over even when your bones and bruises heal. The fear of falling once again can last for years.

And that’s a problem.

What makes falling even more serious is the fact that it actually doubles chances of falling again – and worse. Other studies show that even the fear of falling again often causes people to restrict movement, which reduces motility, balance and muscle strength – ultimately leading to functional and cognitive decline, and a compromised quality of life.

The best way to reverse these trends is to help people prevent falls in the first place. For those who have already fallen once, the goal is to regain lost balance, strength and confidence.

Introducing Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance®

The risk of falling increases with age. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites studies that show that more than one in four people 65+ falls every year.

Fortunately, Connecticut has plans to help people literally get back on their feet. Several towns in Connecticut will be offering Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance® (TJQMBB), an evidence-based program that shows significant results.

Developed by Dr. Fuzong Li at the Oregon Research Institute, the program Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance® (TJQMBB), is specifically designed to improve the balance, posture, strength and stability needed to prevent falls. In fact, multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals showed that the program reduces falls among older adults by 55%.

Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance® isn’t your standard tai chi class. Rather, it’s a balance and strength training program that uses elements of tai chi. The core routine uses eight movement forms designed to build a wider center of gravity for greater stability for everyday living. For instance, there’s one move where you lunge and reach your arm up, like reaching up to a cupboard.

Improving outcomes in Connecticut

In launching the class in Newington, Dianne Stone, Director of the Newington Senior and Disabled Center explains, “Falls are a serious problem, but the good news is – they’re preventable. We can actually do something about it and we know what needs to be done. I like that I’m implementing an evidence-based program, with a known impact proven to improve outcomes in community settings.”

The program requires 48 sessions over 24 weeks at two times per week. To get the benefit, participants need to attend a minimum of 36 classes. Classes in Newington are small, with a maximum of 12 people. Each town will have its own schedule and these are available on the CT Healthy Living Collective website.

Dianne continues, “This class extends our overall fall prevention program. Newington already offers another course, ‘A Matter of Balance,’ an 8-week program intended to reduce the fear of falling. But at the end of the eight weeks, you’re not done. We see TJQMBB as the perfect follow-on course that helps people gain new skills to prevent falls.”

Instructor training to build capacity Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance®

Ten Connecticut towns are offering Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance® through the CT Healthy Living Collective. Thanks to a grant from the North Central Area Agency on Aging, the ten-town collaborative is able to offset instructor costs and offer the TJQMBB fall prevention program in their communities. Connecticut Community Care acted as the lead agency to successfully apply for the grant.

Connecticut, through the Department of Aging and Disability Services (ADS) and the North Central Area Agency on Aging, is among several Eastern states partnering with the Dartmouth Centers on Health & Aging. As part of this initiative, Dartmouth is helping to build TJQMBB capacity by offering instructor training and follow-up technical assistance at no cost to states.

If your agency, healthcare center or town is interested in having an exercise/fitness instructor, or PT or OT trained in TJQMBB, the Dartmouth Centers on Healthy and Aging will be offering free two-day instructor training. For more information on the training requirements or to register, contact Sarah Gauger at the Department of Aging and Disability Services or the CT Healthy Living Collective.

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