ICHS’s free Tai Ji Quan program improves mobility for the elderly


by Amanda Ong

For many seniors, especially those on low incomes or facing language barriers, access to exercise classes is often limited, even though movement is essential for aging health. But the International Community Health Services (ICHS) has a counter to these problems: its program “Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance” has been running since winter 2020 and has recently been made available to the community. in person. like virtually.

“Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance” is a completely free six-month program for seniors that uses the practice of Tai Ji Quan to improve balance. The program is offered with instruction in English, Mandarin and Cantonese to increase accessibility within the CID community, where ICHS is based.

“I think this Tai Ji Quan uses a combination of traditional Tai Ji Quan with slight modifications along with exercises to improve their stability and balance,” said Ava Zhou, program specialist at ICHS. emerald in an interview. “We are happy to reduce the risk of older people and improve their ability to control their movements. »

Tai Ji Quan classes teach seniors essential skills for mobility and balance, especially as falls become an increased risk for them. (Photo: Theo Bickel)

Zhou says “Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance” is different from traditional Tai Ji Quan because it’s designed to improve balance and weight shifts. The class lasts six weeks with two classes per week, in which instructors teach Tai Ji Quan forms and therapeutic movements. Anyone can join as long as they are over 55 and live in King County.

“We start with easy moves, and classes progress over time to more difficult exercises and forms,” Zhou said. “If they are tired, we have different forms of exercise.”

Another major benefit of classes is that since the pandemic, many seniors have had little opportunity to socialize with others, especially those who might live alone and be wary of social distancing. ICHS virtual and in-person classes have approximately six to 12 people. This way, seniors can socialize with their classmates.

“The elderly through this program can get many benefits because this program is based on research,” Zhou said. “The channeling of balance [we use is] designed for seniors at risk of falling. People with balance disorders have greatly improved their balance.

For virtual classes, to measure safety, ICHS will visit seniors in their homes before seniors enroll in its class. ICHS will help each senior set up their iPad or equipment and complete an assessment of their ability level, which can vary widely between students aged 55-85. ICHS also assesses the space and safety of their home environment, so they can ensure seniors are equipped to move around properly during class on their own.

The Tai Ji Quan class is also a way to meet some of the technological needs of seniors. With equipment support from ICHS, he also teaches seniors how to use iPads and navigate the technology needed to complete a virtual course on their own.

For in-person classes, ICHS also offers transportation assistance. In some cases, seniors may be transported to and from class. Zhou says such close attention to accessibility is the main key to helping seniors in the community, and the community as a whole, by making sure seniors can get around safely.

ICHS holds in-person classes at three different locations. While many of its attendees are Chinatown alumni, some come from all over King County, including Renton and Redmond.

Most importantly, the classes teach seniors essential skills for mobility and balance. Not only does the ICHS help them develop essential physical skills, but it also provides them with a community to provide support when they need it.

“A lot of old people will fall as they get older,” Zhou said. “And when they [do], then they will get sick — it is very dangerous when they fall when you are old. And then [Tai Ji Quan] exercise prevents falls, which is important.

Now many who complete the program enjoy it so much that they want to enroll again. For this, the ICHS allows them to enroll in classes with new challenges, and they strengthen their balance and mobility.

“Clients who graduate from our program, they all say, ‘I love this program. I feel better. I can get up right away,” Zhou said. “They improve because through mini-movements in our program, they change their brain system, their eyes and their body. So they say, ‘Oh, I see I’ve gotten younger!’ »

To find out more about the ICHS “Tai Ji Quan: Moving for a better balance” program and to register, go to the ICHS website. website. Lead researcher Dr. Fuzhong Li, who developed the theory of Tai Ji Quan Moving for Better Balance, will also visit CISH this Friday, May 13.

Amanda Ong (she) is a Chinese-American writer from California. She is currently a master’s candidate in the University of Washington’s Museology program and graduated from Columbia University in 2020 with degrees in Creative Writing and Ethnic and Racial Studies.

📸 The featured image: “Tai Ji Quan: Move for Better Balance” is a completely free six-month program for seniors that uses the practice of Tai Ji Quan to improve balance. (Photo: Theo Bickel)

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