Should Tai Chi become a standard tool in dementia care?

There is a substantial body of research that documents the health benefits of Tai Chi. The list is long but includes, reducing blood pressure, slowing the progression and pain relief from rheumatoid arthritis, improved sleep quality, relief from migraines and, reducing the symptoms of parkinsons.

Tai Chi is a holistic art from China, which has been developed over hundreds of years. As a set of physical movements, it is designed to relax the body. Movements are soft and slow and act to loosen the joints and gently stretch the muscles and ligaments. Combined with deep breathing the movements release the Chi and improve blood flow. In this context, Chi is an internal energy that we all possess but we cannot benefit from it until we relax. It is trapped in our bodies through stress and tension.

Tai Chi for Health

There is a substantial body of research that documents the health benefits of Tai Chi. The list is long but includes, reducing blood pressure, slowing the progression and pain relief from rheumatoid arthritis, improved sleep quality, relief from migraines and, reducing the symptoms of parkinsons. For all of these conditions there’s evidence that Tai Chi can also help reduce the use of medication. More generally, Tai Chi can work to prevent and postpone many health ailments, and support the aging process for body, mind and spirit.

One of the leading proponents of Tai Chi for Health is Dr. Paul Lam MD, based in Australia. He has been a practitioner and teacher for over 40 years. His ailment-specific programmes and teacher training are respected and popular the world over.

Hudson and Macfarlane’s 2016 clinical review, published by The College of Family Physicians of Canada, entitled, Health benefits of tai chi: What is the evidence? - reviewed 500 trials and 120 sytematic reviews of Tai Chi conducted over the last 45-years. They concluded:

“There is abundant evidence on the health and fitness effects of tai chi. Based on this, physicians can now offer evidence-based recommendations to their patients, noting that tai chi is still an area of active research, and patients should continue to receive medical follow-up for any clinical conditions.”

Tai Chi and Adult Day Dementia Care

Research looking at the benefits of Tai Chi in the early stages of dementia often focuses on improving balance, preventing falls, and relaxation.

In this video by the Dementia and Ageing Research Centre of Bournemouth University in the UK, we hear from Dr. Samuel Nyman and participants of randomised control trial conducted over a six-month period where they share their experiences.

 

Tai Chi and Memory Care

During the Best Eldercare conversation in April 2022, we looked into Tai Chi in Memory Care. We were fortunate to draw on the expertise of Dr. Gary Irwin-Kenyon, New Brunswick, Canada. Gary is a pioneer of Narrative Gerontology and has many years of experience providing Tai Chi in memory care. Watch the recording to learn how the benefits of Tai Chi also extend into later stages of dementia. 

Watch the recording

HubSpot Video