Muscle loss and aging typically go hand in hand. As people age, they naturally suffer a loss of physical muscle and mass. This often affects their gait and balance. Unfortunately, weakened muscles and diminished strength are frequently the cause of elderly falls and fractures. While some loss is normal, extreme loss can be caused by sarcopenia. It is imperative to address this as soon as possible because elderly falls can have catastrophic consequences,. Ideally, we need to prevent elderly falls from occurring altogether.
Sarcopenia Causing Falls
When muscles start to lose their overall form and function from aging, sarcopenia is the cause. Researchers at the University of Southampton have found that between the ages of 40 and 80 the body suffers a significant decline in muscle mass. Unsurprisingly, this loss in muscle and strength contributes to frailty and poor health in the elderly. Between 30 to 60 percent is normal; more than that is considered severe and needs to be addressed.
Causes of Saropenia
Researchers now believer that sarcopenia, is caused by:
- impaired nerve cell function sending messages to the brain;
- lowered hormone levels;
- reduced ability of the body to convert protein to energy, and
- reduced calorie intake inhibiting the body to produce muscle mass.
Dietary Changes Can Help
University of Southampton’s Professor Sian Robinson further states, “Poor diets and being physically inactive are common in older age. Understanding the benefits of maintaining sufficient levels of physical activity and diet quality to prevent sarcopenia is therefore a priority.” Eating a healthy diet rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins helps build muscle. Furthermore, making sure to eat enough and enough of the right foods, often a problem for the elderly, will also help to build mass. Obviously, protein rich foods will help. Other important nutrients include Vitamin D, creatine and whey protein.
Physical Activity Can Help
Senior citizens who are experiencing a loss of muscle mass can curb that loss. Increased physical activity can prevent falls. Low-impact water aerobics, lightweight strength training, or walking are examples of beneficial exercises. Furthermore, resistance training can also help to balance hormones. Exercise seems to be the best way to avoid sarcopenia. Even 30 minutes a day will help prevent elderly falls and fractures. Although this is not a cure-all approach to sarcopenia, it can certainly help slow the degeneration of muscle strength. Physicians can perform a risk assessment for your senior. Afterwards, personalized treatment can focus on preventing muscle loss and improving the strength of existing muscles.
Risk Assessment for Falls
Moreover, healthcare professionals should conduct a clear fall assessment to determine an elderly person’s risk of falling. Sarcopenia is defined by an assessment of the person’s physical performance and muscle mass. In fact, the International Working Group on Sarcopenia (IWGS) offers a definition of sarcopenia to help identify elderly individuals who may suffer from a fall or fracture due to muscle loss. Furthermore, this is in accordance with the Official Journal of the Italian Society of Orthopaedics and Medicine. Although addressing this issue may not add to longevity, it certainly will preserve the quality of life for many more years.
David York Agency Can Help
At David York Agency, we understand the many challenges and risks faced by the aging and elderly and are dedicated to providing care to support them through all of those ups and down. Our team of home healthcare providers can assist with total personal care. Tasks range from preparing healthy meals and helping maintain personal hygiene to providing safe escorting to appointments and ensuring upkeep of the home.
For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. Our aim is to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or LinkedIn.