Few people are familiar with the disorder sarcopenia in the elderly. It is severe muscle loss which leaves your elderly loved one at a higher risk of falling. Here we explore what it is, how to diagnose it and what to do about it.
Muscle loss and aging typically go hand in hand. As people age, they naturally suffer a loss of physical muscle and mass. As a result, their muscles weaken and they experience diminished strength. Since the elderly tend to be less physically active and often have poor diets for a variety of reasons, they are more at risk of elderly falls and fractures. Moreover, sarcopenia in the elderly could be at play.
What is sarcopenia?
As we age, muscles start to lose their overall form and function. When the loss is more severe that the normal loss from aging, we refer to the disorder as sarcopenia. 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 of between 30 to 60 percent. Unsurprisingly, this loss in muscle and strength contributes to frailty and poor health in the elderly. It affects your gait and can be a direct cause of a fall.
How is sarcopenia diagnosed?
You may notice diminished strength. 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, according to the Official Journal of the Italian Society of Orthopaedics and Medicine. The sarcopenia definition is based on assessing the person’s physical performance and muscle mass. Once an assessment has been made, physicians can focus treatment on preventing muscle loss and improving the strength of existing muscles, in order to prevent elderly falls from occurring.
What are the causes sarcopenia?
Because not all elderly develop sarcopenia, researchers have looked to causes other than natural aging. They now believe there may be a connection to:
- reduced nerve cells that send messages to the brain to more
- lowered hormone levels
- decreased ability to convert protein to energy
- insufficient calorie and protein intake to maintain muscle mass
What can we do?
Senior citizens who are experiencing a loss of muscle mass can curb that loss and prevent falls by getting more muscle mass. You can do this with:
- Increasing exercise and physical activity (such as low-impact water aerobics, lightweight strength training, or walking). However, resistance training with bands and weights are really the most effective. There are trainers who specialize in the elderly.
- Eating a healthy diet rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins helps increase body mass. Vitamin D is useful for this as well since it maintains bone and muscle tissues. A home healthcare provider can assist with everything from preparing healthy meals and helping maintain a personal exercise regimen.
- Hormone replacement therapy can help with body mass and decreasing abdominal fat. Furthermore, there are medications being studied to address underlying conditions like: treatment for metabolic syndromes, testosterone supplements and angiotensin for converting enzyme inhibitors.
Though this is not a cure-all approach to sarcopenia in the elderly, it can certainly help slow the degeneration of muscle strength.
David York Agency Home Healthcare Helps Seniors in Pelham Parkway
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. At David York Home Healthcare Agency, extraordinary service is what sets us apart from other companies in Pelham Parkway that provide in home health care services.
DYA we could provide direction as to how to manage the total care of your senior loved one. Whatever your care needs, we are there for you, always striving to exceed your expectations. For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at (718) 376-7755. A free phone consultation can help you determine what services would meet your needs. We aim 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.