To celebrate National Falls Prevention Awareness Day on Thursday, Sept. 22, the Iowa Department on Aging, Iowa Department of Public Health, YMCA of Greater Des Moines, Des Moines University and the Iowa Falls Prevention Coalition are partnering to host Iowa’s Largest Tai Chi Class in the Iowa State Capitol Rotunda in Des Moines and in communities across Iowa.
Tai chi is an ancient Chinese exercise system consisting of slow, relaxed movements that has been proven to improve balance, functional mobility and flexibility; increase strength; reduce risk of falling; reduce pain and stress; and increase psychological well-being. This event will introduce Iowans to tai chi as an effective, evidence-based falls prevention program while increasing public awareness about the prevalence of falls among older Iowans and Iowans with disabilities.
The event at the Capitol will open at 11:30 a.m. with an official proclamation of Sept. 22 as Iowa Falls Prevention Awareness Day. After that, participants will enjoy a tai chi class followed by falls prevention activities and demonstrations geared toward at-risk individuals, health care providers and the general public. Parking will be available in the ramp located at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, unintentional falls are the leading cause of injury-related emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths for Iowans aged 65 or older, with those over age 85 being seven times more likely than those ages 65-84 to die from a fall. With Iowa’s aging population, the number of unintentional falls continues to increase each year, resulting in more than 430 reported fall-related deaths in 2012 and adding up to more than $135 million each year in hospital costs.