Sarcopenia: Cause, Effect and Prevention 

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Unfortunately, as we age, our propensity for injury — and the severity of the injury should one arise — increases. Common injuries for seniors range from sprains to fractures to herniated discs, and the cause often stems from a loss of balance and a fall — which could have disastrous consequences. 

Sarcopenia is often to blame for a senior’s increased likelihood of a trip or fall. While sarcopenia often goes undiagnosed, it’s estimated that between 5 and 13 percent of adults aged 60 and up are affected by the condition. These estimates increase from 11 to 50 percent for those aged 80 and older.

What Is Sarcopenia?

Sarcopenia affects our musculoskeletal systems. It’s a process describing a steady loss of muscle mass thatreduces one’s strength and muscular functionality. In extreme cases, sarcopenia can halt an individual’s ability to complete everyday tasks, leading to the need for professional care.

Signs of sarcopenia in seniors include:

  • a reduced walking pace,
  • a slower speed completing everyday chores,
  • reduced stamina,
  • reduced strength,
  • increased frailty, and
  • an increase in trips and falls.

The progression of these symptoms can result in injuries, surgeries, hospital stays, and beyond. 

If you or a senior you know has experienced a health emergency, including surgery following an injury from a trip or fall, securing help from an at-home care provider can prove highly beneficial. Take Integracare Home Care for one. They offer a multi-pronged approach: providing nursing staff, Personal Support Workers, massage therapists, and physiotherapists who provide person-centred, in-home care to cater to their client’s physical and medical needs— such as wound care.

Staying at home during the recovery period following a hospital visit offers seniors safety, comfort, familiarity, routine, and independence.

Treatments for Sarcopenia

It’s predicted that as we age, we may lose as much aseight percent of our muscle mass every decade. The best treatment for sarcopenia — for those who receive a diagnosis and those looking for preventative measures — is to maintain a steady and consistent exercise routine and a healthy and balanced diet.

Exercise as a Treatment for Sarcopenia

Recommended forms of physical treatment include training and toning muscles using body weight and bar weights and endurance training using resistance bands. These methods can help seniors retain and strengthen muscle while boosting protein production — which allows our bodies to sustain and build muscle mass in the first place.

Diet as a Treatment for Sarcopenia

Three nutrients — protein, vitamin D and omega 3s — have been associated with a reduction in the symptoms of sarcopenia. Incorporating these into your daily eating habits can work with your body to improve conditioning.

The Mediterranean diet — a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, Omega 3s, and legumes with a high protein count — has also been specifically associated with improved muscle mass and tone in older individuals experiencing frailty and the other symptoms associated with sarcopenia.

The Bottom Line

While sarcopenia affects a large proportion of older adults, its symptoms can be both delayed and countered. Consider embracing a balanced and nutritious diet and taking some time each day for gentle exercise that can help to strengthen and build muscle mass. 

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