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Tai Chi lessons offered to area seniors

ADDISON COUNTY — September is Falls Prevention and Awareness Month in Vermont, and CVAA is offering a series of Tai Chi for Arthritis falls prevention classes around the county.
Falls are the main reason why older adults lose their independence, and many people to believe the myth that “falls are an inevitable part of aging.” Fortunately, the opportunity to help reduce falls among older adults has never been better, because research has demonstrated that falls can be prevented.
Anyone who has fallen in the past year, has a fear of falling or feels unsteady on their feet may be at risk of having a fall. Muscle weakness and balance are the most common risk factors but are also the most treatable. People should talk to their primary care physician if they have any of these symptoms, and work out strategies to reduce their risk, like having their medications reviewed, referring in home physical therapy or participating in a group activity that will increase their strength. Home modifications such as adding grab bars, stair railings, additional lighting, removing clutter from pathways and increasing physical activity can all contribute to reducing the risk of having a fall.
CVAA’s Tai Chi for Arthritis (TCA) falls prevention program is among the top-tiered evidence-based programs recommended by the Centers for Disease Control & Injury Prevention. TCA can reduce the incidence of falls by 55 percent and recurrent falls by 70 percent. This form of tai chi is more upright, making it safer for seniors. It can be done standing or seated. Tai chi combines deep breathing and slow, continuous movements that help anchor one in the present. It’s a great respite in busy lifestyle.
Strength programs like CVAA’s Living Strong in Vermont and RSVP’s Bone Builders also target improved strength, flexibility, agility, balance and energy. Whether one chooses walking, swimming or an evidence-based community program, it should be an activity they can enjoy and fit regularly into their lifestyle.
Tai Chi for Arthritis is being offered in several Addison County towns:
• In Bristol, the Bristol Rec Department is the site of several classes. A beginners’ class will be offered Mondays and Wednesdays from 1-2 p.m., starting Sept. 21. An ongoing advanced class meets Mondays from 8-9 a.m. A Sun73 advanced class will be held on Tuesdays, from 9:15-11:15 a.m., starting Sept. 29.
• In Middlebury, a beginners’ class starts Tuesday, Oct. 6, from 1-2 p.m. at the Residence at Otter Creek; it meets Tuesdays and Thursdays. In addition, there are ongoing advanced classes that meet Tuesday evenings from 5-6 p.m. at EastView, Thursday evenings from 5-6 p.m. at Ilsley Library, and Wednesdays from 11 a.m.-noon at Middlebury Fitness.
• In New Haven, a beginners’ Wednesday evening class from 4:30-5:30 p.m. starts Sept. 30 at the New Haven Congregational Church.
• In Starksboro, on ongoing advanced class meets Thursdays from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at the Starksboro Schoolhouse.
• In Vergennes, a Wednesday evening advanced class will meet from 5-6 p.m. at Creative Space Gallery starting Sept. 30. A new beginners’ class will be starting soon at St. Peter’s Parish Hall; call CVAA for details.
CVAA’s Tai Chi for Arthritis falls prevention programs are offered at no charge, however donations are greatly appreciated. Classes are open to all age 50 and over. Classes fill quickly and some have limited capacity so participants are urged to pre-register early by calling CVAA at 800-642-5119, ext. 1019, or emailing [email protected].
New programs will be offered throughout the year. If the program is no longer accepting new participants, people can ask to be put on a waiting list; those people will be contacted before the new programs are announced.

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