Tai chi can help prevent slips, trips, falls

Many older adults have benefited from the centuries-old Chinese martial arts tai chi and qigong.

“Chi” or “qi” — chee — means “life energy.” “Qigong” — chee-goong — literally means “life energy cultivation.” Tai chi consists of a series of flowing movements, while qigong focuses on the repetition of isolated movements and breathing.

Experts say these mind-body exercises promote good health, flexibility, strength and balance, which help reduce the risk of falling among seniors. Each year, one of three adults, age 65 and older, falls due to lack of balance or other reasons.

Consider that a record 11,000 baby boomers turn 65 and become Medicare eligible every day, and that can add up to a lot of falls and serious injuries. Besides doing exercises that promote flexibility, seniors also can help prevent falls and serious injuries by taking a few precautions at home:

• Reduce tripping hazards such as throw rugs, raised doorway thresholds or loose carpet.

• Keep paths clear of electrical cords and clutter.

• Add grab bars where necessary — in hallways, stairways and bathtubs.

• Add a rubber bath mat in the shower or tub.

• Keep a phone and flashlight by the bed.