Although older adults are at an increased risk for depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the condition is not a normal part of aging, as is sometimes the misconception. There is good news for seniors in terms of fighting depression, however. A 2011 study led by UCLA researchers and published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that the martial art Tai Chi could help stave off depression in seniors.
The study’s researchers treated 112 participants, aged 60 and older — who had major depression — with the antidepressant escitalopram (Lexapro) for four weeks. The 73 participants who responded to the drug were continued on it for an additional 10 weeks. Some of the 73 individuals were assigned randomly to two hours per week of health education, while others were randomly assigned Tai Chi.
The participants who performed Tai Chi while taking the medication had reduced depressive symptoms or remission of their depression, more often than those who took the health education class (which also involved some stretching exercises).This news is promising for seniors, especially considering that in their 2011 article the authors of the study reported that 60% of elderly patients treated for depression failed to achieve remission or reduction of symptoms with prescription medications, indicating that alternative treatments are needed.
In recent years, especially, physical activity has been recognized as important, not only for physical health, but also for mental and emotional well-being. The gentle movements and focused energy techniques of Tai Chi are an excellent way to strengthen the body and mind, and they reduce stress, potentially alleviating depression symptoms.
Seniors reluctant to try Tai Chi in a private setting can benefit from an in-home senior care provider like the professionals at Always Best Care to help ensure their safety. Visit our website, or call us toll free at 1-855-470-2273 for more information about our home care services.