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Focus: Spring 2010

Effects of Tai Chi/Qigong...

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apartments and/or attending a participant-led group in the common room of the apartment buildings. As might be expected, many participants had mobility challenges, with 30% reporting that they exercised primarily in a sitting position rather than standing. The average exercise length was 25 min/day. Although overall, 80% of participants reported regular exercise over the first week of the study, it gradually declined over time in both groups. After five weeks, 68.4% of the participants who received weekly instruction continued exercising regularly as compared to 55.8% of the group which received one instructor-led class. Currently the participants are continuing the program independently in their apartments.

The major perceived benefits from the program were improved sense of well being, energy, vitality and quality of sleep, reduced pain, and improved mobility and balance. The research results indicate that residents of senior housing can achieve the skills and confidence in performing a Tai Chi/Qigong program safely in their homes when given one instructor-led class and an instructional DVD for home exercise use. However, the real impact of the program may be experienced on the individual level. This impact may be typified in the comments of one participant.

“I never thought I would do something as exotic as Tai Chi. I enjoy it. I sleep better. I feel better and my family is very impressed.”

The challenge, now, is to find ways to make this and similar programs widely available to others with limited mobility whose lives might be similarly changed by exposure to this ancient health-promoting physical activity. www

Behavioral Health Challenges...

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disease causes the behavior often leads to failing to think about other factors. What is it that the behavior reflects about an individual’s desires? Are there ways to help them achieve what they want? What are their personal interests? Maybe asking questions will provide information about interests and desires, and maybe there are ways of engaging with otherwise trying people based on what you know about them as a person, rather than just as a sick and disabled person.

echniques of Interaction

I have emphasized the importance of learning to understand the unique, inner experience of each individual client, but there are also techniques of interaction that have been developed that work with some people. For example, there are ways to help people with significant memory loss ranging from the simple, obvious, and sometimes neglected tactic of writing it down and putting it in a place where the person will see the reminder to ways of adapting brain fitness exercises to individual interests.

Mental and behavioral problems are among the greatest challenges confronted by home care workers. Meeting these challenges calls for the development of cadres of home care workers who specialize in serving this population, and it calls for training regarding identification of mental health conditions, linking to professional services, and improved engagement of behaviorally trying clients. “Long-term care reform”, which is one of the major elements of overall health care reform in the United States, cannot move ahead effectively without a major policy initiative built on recognition of the centrality of behavioral health in long-term care. And we urge both state and Federal governments to provide the resources needed so that long-term care providers to serve people with mental or behavioral problems effectively in their homes. www

community health care services foundation, inc.

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