A tai chi program for seniors with dementia has helped participants maintain good quality of life measures. It also shows promise for reducing falls, report British researchers.

Two-person teams of caregivers and adults with dementia participated in the six-month trial. Quality of life measurements in the tai chi group remained steady, while those for a control group declined, wrote Samuel R. Nyman, Ph.D., from the University of Bournemouth, U.K.

There was also a strong – though not significant – trend toward reduced falls in the tai chi group, who were evaluated with the standard Timed Up and Go test for balance and fall risk. There was no significant effect on balance in this group, however.

Nyman says he sees promise in the exercise program, called TACIT (Tai Chi for People with Dementia).

“We found that those who did tai chi really enjoyed the classes and meeting up with others who have dementia and their family carers. We found tai chi to be an incredibly safe and gentle exercise, and family carers were happy to support their loved ones with the classes and home practice.”

The researchers have posted a video that shows study participants in action. A larger trial that further evaluates tai chi’s effect on falls risk is planned.