Community scheme reduces risk of tumbles among the elderly

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 April, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 April, 2005, 12:00am

The Hospital Authority is urging the elderly to practise tai chi to improve their balance after a survey revealed one in four of them are injured in falls every year.

A citywide plan was launched yesterday to teach 10 simplified movements. Studies have proven that tai chi can reduce the risk of falls by 47.5 per cent.

Leung Kwok-sui, a member of the authority's expert group launching the programme, said every year about 12,000 people aged 60 or above were admitted to hospital after falling.

Mok Chun-keung, another expert group member, said a recent Chinese University of Hong Kong survey showed that 25 per cent of the elderly fell each year.

Dr Mok said: 'In some tai chi movements, the elderly have to stand on one leg and move their bodies. If they don't fall when practising [these movements], I am sure they will be fine when walking.'

About 50 elderly tai chi graduates demonstrated the movements yesterday. Lai Kwok-yeung, 73, said he had suffered leg pains for years and the exercises had changed his life. 'I didn't want to go out in the past two years, I was so depressed I had even thought of killing myself.'

After a month of classes, Mr Lai said he had recovered psychologically and physically. 'I used to fall one or two times a month - now I don't. I can even ride a bike.'