Friday, July 25, 2014

Addressing Muscle Atrophy in Seniors

An important part of healthful aging and continued independence for seniors is managing bone and muscle health. Sarcopenia, or the gradual loss of muscle mass, is common among older adults. This condition is potentially caused by many complex factors, often accompanied by a sedentary lifestyle. As your loved one ages, his or her:
-Hormone levels could change. Some hormones, such as testosterone, growth hormone, and others may lose concentration in the body.
-Motor neurons can lose functionality. There is often an age-related reduction in the nerve cells that are responsible for communicating between the brain and muscles to stimulate body movement.
-Protein requirements may change. As your loved one ages, his or her body may be less able to synthesize proteins.
-Eating habits may not be sufficient. If a person does not eat enough calories or protein to maintain their muscle mass, they may end up losing strength. 
In combination, these factors are presumed to lead to sarcopenia. To help your older loved one maintain a high quality of life, you can help them stave off muscle loss, as well as falling, associated with the condition. When an older adult looses muscle strength, they are more inclined to fall and endure injuries, fractures, or long-term disability. But with proper senior care, you can help your elderly loved one stay safe and cope with aging-related muscle loss. 
Preventing and Managing Age-Related Muscle Loss
There are many things your family member or friend can do to stay healthy and prevent falls caused by muscle loss. One of the most important ways to do so is through physical activity and exercise. Before starting any regimen, you can work with your loved one and his or her doctor to find the right program for their individual needs and abilities. Target exercises can help your loved one maintain, and even improve their muscle and bone strength. 
Not only will resistance training help improve strength, but it is also suggested to positively influence hormone concentrations in the body, the neuromuscular system, and the rate of protein synthesis. Other research has revealed that a continually increasing resistance training program could improve protein synthesis rates in a mere two weeks. 
To help your loved one achieve the benefits of exercise with reduced risk of injury, you, your family member or friend, and his or her doctor should work together to define the best type of, frequency, and intensity for their exercise program. 
In addition to physical activity, nutrition plays a key role in staving off sarcopenia. A review paper by the International Osteoporosis Foundation revealed the importance of nutrition, and identified which types of factors can contribute to lost muscle mass. They also identified ways that nutrients can improve or maintain muscle mass, as well. 
Protein. Protein is a highly important part of muscle health. The review showed that consuming between one and 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight each day is ideal for supporting bone and skeletal muscle health in the majority of older adults.
Vitamin D. You can help your older loved one increase their vitamin D levels by enjoying the outdoors together. Safe exposure to sunlight or proper supplementation can help support musculoskeletal health, as well.
Fruits and vegetables. It is no secret that natural, whole foods are the key to great nutrition. However, the study revealed that eating too many acid-producing foods, like cereal grains or meat, in conjunction with not eating enough alkalizing fruits and vegetables could be detrimental to musculoskeletal health. Under a doctor’s guidance, you can help your older loved one add more fruits and vegetables to their diet to find a good balance that supports bone and muscle health.
Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid. Other research has suggested that folic acid and/or vitamin B12 could play a key role in enhancing muscle strength and function, too. 
Providing care for seniors is a highly individualized process. When helping your older loved ones to fight off the loss of muscle mass and maintain their strength, there are many things you can do. Work with your family member or friend, as well as their doctor here in Durham, to learn more about the best ways to stave off sarcopenia and help them stay healthy and happy.


12 comments:

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  5. I know that his has been a huge problem. When my grandma was in the hospital, they were worried about muscle atrophy. It was hard for her to move around, with all the pain she was in. Someone would come in and help her move every so often, so keep this from happening.

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