The Administration for Community Living (ACL) recently awarded a three-year grant to the Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative, part of the Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatric Medicine. ACL is part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
The grant will help fund implementation of a statewide program for falls prevention.
Lee Jennings, M.D., geriatric medicine specialist, will coordinate the program, which integrates complimentary components: Tai Chi Quan: Moving for Better Balance (TCQ: MBB), and Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL) in an effort to decrease the likelihood of falls and improve mobility among older Oklahomans and those with disabilities.
“In addition, OHAI will train volunteer class leaders to enhance program sustainability. Our objective is to build sustainable partnerships with organizations, such as hospital systems, long-term care facilities and insurance providers,” Jennings said. She is also principle investigator on a study related to the grant-funded program.
National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, Monday, Sept. 23, is about preventing fall-related injuries. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries, posing a threat to life and quality of life.
In connection with the national emphasis, OHAI will host a Facebook live event from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.
The event will include healthcare professionals in a discussion of the adverse impact of falls, how to prevent them as well as practical tips for creating a more secure environment. The event will also feature video demonstrations of TCQ and SAIL classes.
Keith Kleszynski, Ph.D., associate director of OHAI, explained that the SAIL program is new to OHAI and relatively new to Oklahoma. “We selected this program for its emphasis on physical activity and its appeal to those inclined toward more rigorous exercise,” he said. “It represents a strategic move to reach more male participants.”
Currently, 79 percent of OHAI tai chi participants are female; however, the risks associated with falls and injuries are not limited by gender.
SAIL was developed to improve strength, balance and fitness – all critical components in one’s ability to remain physically active and reduce the risk of falls. It can be done seated or standing. Tai chi incorporates slow and controlled movements that also increase balance and flexibility.