What are sarcopenia symptoms that we should be looking out for in our elderly?

Muscles play a crucial role in our everyday lives—from walking and climbing stairs, to picking up groceries and folding laundry. 

As we age, our muscle mass decreases. This can lead to health problems such as postural weakness that can lead to falls and fractures. 

To help our elderly loved ones stay healthy, it’s important to understand what sarcopenia is. 

This blog post provides an overview of sarcopenia symptoms and how we could help our aging parents prevent it.

What is sarcopenia?

what is sarcopenia

We use our muscles to perform almost any physical activity. Sedentary lifestyles cause us not to be as strong as we used to be. 

Our muscles degenerate, causing our bodies to be weak. This muscle loss leads to a medical condition called Sarcopenia

This age-related muscle condition affects people aged 50 and above. But it can start as early as 30 years old. 

The biggest challenge with Sarcopenia is its lack of diagnosis and treatment. Any loss in muscle mass can lead to its diagnosis. 

However, studies show an increase in the condition from 5% to 13% in people aged 60 and above—this rate increases from 11% to 50% for people aged 80 and older. 

Other factors can increase the chances of Sarcopenia in seniors. 

Such as immobilization due to illness or an injury and can lead to rapid loss of muscle mass. 

Muscle strength decreases, resulting in more significant fatigue, making it difficult for seniors to do regular daily tasks.

Some researchers suggest that it can be due to lower hormone levels such as IGF-1. This hormone stimulates growth in fibers responsible for muscle mass.

Others conclude sarcopenia is related to a decline in the body's ability to convert proteins to energy. This may be due to the aging body's slowing metabolism.

Long-term medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or COPD also result in inflammation that disrupts a body's normal state of removing dead cells and healing. 

Health conditions that increase stress in the body also lead to Sarcopenia.

These can be seniors living with chronic kidney disease, chronic heart failure, cancer, or who are having cancer treatments.

What is the difference between Sarcopenia and muscle atrophy?

muscle athrophy

Is Sarcopenia the same as atrophy?

Both sarcopenia and atrophy to describe a loss of muscle mass. 

To answer this question, we need to define muscle atrophy. 

Muscle atrophy is defined as the thinning or loss of a muscle. It can be specific to one limb or joint, or systemic.

This condition can occur due to genetic problems or malnutrition. Disuse of muscle and neurological disorders can also cause atrophy. 

On the other hand, Sarcopenia is a type of muscle atrophy caused by the body's degeneration due to old age.  

Unlike younger people, seniors no longer have the ability to heal and repair as fast. The body no longer produces enough hormones and proteins to aid cellular regeneration.

How does lifestyle impact the development of Sarcopenia?

While it is normal for the body to degenerate as we grow older, our lifestyle choices can also speed this up or slow the process down.

The same is true with Sarcopenia. 

Physical activity and diet play a huge role in our body's recovery. Thus, our lifestyle choices can contribute to the chances of us experiencing Sarcopenia in the future. 

This is also why the elderly must make better choices regarding their health. 

Research shows that seniors who do strength-training exercises tend to experience reduced sarcopenia related problems.

strength exercises for senioes

Food and nutrition also play a critical role in avoiding and reversing Sarcopenia in seniors. 

According to research, the recommended protein intake for elderly adults should be between 1.2 and 2.0 g/kg/day or higher.

However, it is estimated that 41% of adult women and 38% of adult men eat less protein than their daily recommended allowance.

Seniors who also eat large amounts of acid-producing foods such as processed foods and grains or eat few vegetables rapidly progress the condition.

Other factors like sleeping disorders, smoking, and chronic alcohol consumption can reduce muscle strength and quicken loss of mass.

Therefore, it is increasingly important to identify specific lifestyle behaviors in our loved ones to prevent Sarcopenia from developing.

A diet consisting of adequate protein intake, essential amino acids, and particularly leucine-rich food such as fish, beef, and legumes are vital to reducing risks.

Get tips on senior nutrition and diet here

Can supplements help prevent or treat Sarcopenia?

Several vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin D, protein, and creatine, have shown great promise in preventing Sarcopenia.

Vitamin D supplements can help increase muscle strength and reduce the risks of falling. 

It plays a role in maintaining bone health and helps preserve fibers prone to muscle atrophy in the elderly. It also lowers the risk of seniors developing osteoporosis.

Creatine supplements also help seniors in attenuating this age-related muscle loss. In addition, it helps improve an elderly's ability to perform functional living tasks.

Final thoughts

It's essential for caregivers and loved ones to recognize sarcopenia symptoms in seniors early on. 

While it's normal for our bodies to degenerate as we grow older, it's still important for us to make better health choices to improve health span and quality of life.  

With proper diet and exercise, we can help our elderly to avoid experiencing Sarcopenia and live their lives to the fullest until the end. 

That's all for today.

Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!

Winn

Articles of Interest:

  1. AGE IN PLACE DESIGN GUIDELINES MADE ACHIEVABLE FOR THE ELDERLY
  2. HOW ELDERLY HOME CARE MAKES AGING IN PLACE POSSIBLE FOR SENIORS
  3. PREVENTION OF FALLS AT HOME - STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO PREVENT FALLING

Bedroom safety for seniors is crucial, especially since it’s a place where falls commonly occur. 

In the previous post, we discussed why it’s vital to secure bedrooms as a safe place for the elderly. 


We also discussed the challenges and problems that seniors encounter in the bedroom. 

So today, we will be talking about practical tips on how to improve bedroom safety for seniors aging in place. 

Let’s get started then… 

5 Practical Tips for Bedroom Safety for the Elderly

1. Make bedrooms clutter-free and easy to navigate

The bedroom should be free of clutter. Unnecessary items and furniture increase a senior’s risk of falls.

Avoid using bed linens or bedspreads that reach the floor to keep their feet from getting tangled. 

Remember to check the floor regularly, discarded clothing and footwear can quickly become fall hazards.

Be sure they have adequate space to move safely around the room.

bedroom safety for seniors is a priority

Many tasks require an older adult to move around the bedroom. For example: getting dressed, closing blinds, or even turning on/off the lights.

So check if there’s adequate space for them and ask the following questions:

These are essential things to assess. Take trials on navigating the bedroom yourself and evaluate whether there’s enough space for them to move.

And if they use assistive devices such as walkers, canes, or rollators, designate a spot to "park" it close to the bed. 

This minimizes extra steps across the bedroom without the assistive device and also reduces their energy expenditure.

2. Furniture should be easy to use and without sharp edges

furniture inside the bedroom should make sense

The height of the bed is an important thing to assess. Floor to top of mattress should be between 20 inches and 23 inches for most people.

If the bed is too low, it is difficult to get out. If the bed is to high, fall risk increases getting into bed. Avoid bed height that require step stools.

For other bedroom furniture, look for chairs or couches that are sturdy and supportive. 

Choose ones with armrests as they can make it easier for them to get in and out of the furniture.

Make sure seats are at least 18 inches tall. Avoid those that are too soft, as these can make it difficult for seniors to get up when needed.

Placing a firm board under the seat cushion can improve the quality of a sagging couch or chair.

All furniture items should not be swaying and wobbling. And avoid those with sharp corners which become dangerous in the event of a fall.

3. Lighting should be bright and without glare

Easy access and adequate lighting are crucial for the elderly when navigating the bedroom.

Floor or table lamps that can be turned on by a light switch are often a good idea. Touch lamps can reduce the finger dexterity required and be easier for seniors.

Quality lighting will also decrease reflections, shadows, and glare which can cause the eyes to not recognize clutter or objects such as tables and chairs. 

To avoid glare, do not use clear glass fixtures, avoid installing bright fixtures near glossy surfaces, and shield bulbs from direct view.

4. Use non-slip flooring to increase bedroom safety for seniors 

While carpet and hardwoods are the most common flooring in bedrooms, they each have their challenges.

Carpet is slip resistant, but can be challenging to navigate with a walker or wheelchair. Carpet is also difficult to clean in the event of a spill.

Hardwoods allow for easy use of assistive devices, but can be slippery. They are also often covered with rugs which presents another set of issues if the rugs are thick or not secured to the floor.

Consider rubber flooring. Many people are unaware it even exists as an option, but it can be the best choice for seniors.

Rubber is slip resistant, even when wet and can absorb shock in the even of a fall. This reduces the risk of a costly fracture after an accident.

5. Temperatures should be comfortable year-round

For our seniors, keeping the proper bedroom temperatures isn’t only a matter of comfort. It’s also a matter of health.

The ideal temperature, varies from person to person. But the lowest safe room temperature for seniors is around 65°F. And for those on blood thinners, they will likely prefer much warmers temperatures.

Talk to your loved ones and find out where their comfort range falls, and take steps to keep the home at that temperature.

To help optimize the bedroom temperature, it’s advisable to close blinds during the day to reduce heat build-up.

Use smart technology. You can buy quiet tower fans with timers if they have trouble falling asleep. If it’s really hot, you can put a bowl of ice in front of the fan to cool the air.

Sweating can also be minimized by using the bed sheets, mattresses, duvets, and pillows for temperature regulation.

bedroom safety for seniors checklist

Bonus Tip: Noise levels should be kept low

Most seniors also have a hard time sleeping especially if they’re in a noisy neighborhood. 

Cars honking, children playing, dogs barking. These types of sounds can disrupt their sleep. 

Noise can also be disturbing to seniors experiencing dementia. Hearing has a significant impact on dementia patients as it can worsen how they respond and perceive external stimuli. 

So how do you address this? 

Think of acoustics especially if you’re thinking of renovating your parent’s bedroom. 

Avoid using materials such as concrete, plasterboard, and brickwork which are high sound producers. 

It also helps to fill the gaps and air passages around doors, walls, and ceilings. And use sound-absorbing curtains as well as wall and floor coverings to limit reverberation. 

Learn more about noise level reduction for seniors here

Do you need help with remodeling your parent’s home and making it safer for aging in place? Check out our blog on the top remodeling home ideas for seniors

Final thoughts 

Bedroom safety for seniors is vital to our loved ones’ health.

We need to make sure that their bedrooms are well designed and free of clutter. This way they can maximize their rest and sleep. 

Do you have any tips to share on improving bedroom safety for seniors? Share them with us below. 

That's all for today.

Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!

Winn

Articles of Interest:

  1. 5 COMMON MUSCULOSKELETAL DISORDERS IN SENIORS
  2. HOW TO DEAL WITH IRRATIONAL ELDERLY PARENTS PEACEFULLY
  3. THERAPEUTIC ACTIVITIES THAT BOOST THE MORALE OF THE ELDERLY

Bedroom safety is an often overlooked issue for elderly care. 

However, it is one of the most important things to remember when caring for an aging loved one. 

In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of bedroom safety and provide tips on making your loved one's bedroom much safer and more secure. 

Let's get started. 

How dangerous are bedrooms for the elderly?

falls in the bedroom

Bedroom safety for the elderly is vital as falls are the leading cause of their injuries.

And bedroom-related falls make up a significant percentage of these accidents, causing severe injuries to the elderly.

Most of these cases come from the medical conditions of the elderly. 

Like orthostatic hypotension, a form of low blood pressure can make seniors feel lightheaded as they stand up from sitting or lying down. 

Orthostatic hypotension is common in at least 30% of older adults. 

Most times, it can feel like lightheadedness or dizziness, which the individual often disregards. However, it should be looked for in assessments, especially for those seniors with dementia or a history of falls. 

Visual impairments and challenges are also common as people age. 

More than one in four older adults with worsening eyesight had recurrent falls due to low-light areas and difficulty gauging distance from the edge of the bed. 

Sundowner's syndrome is also a frequent condition in seniors. It refers to a state of confusion in seniors, often occurring in the late afternoon and into the evening. 

Sundowning can cause different behaviors continuing in the night. It can appear as confusion, anxiety, or aggressive behaviors, especially towards caregivers. 

Sometimes it can also cause the seniors to wander off and get lost.  

20% of the elderly population experience sundowning, leading to more serious accidents for seniors in the bedroom.

These are among the most common causes of falls in the bedroom. Because of this, caregivers should pay more attention to keeping the bedroom safe for their loved ones. 

Why improve bedroom safety for the elderly?

Several safety hazards in the bedroom for the elderly pose significant threats.

As with all falls, a bed-related fall can be a minor situation or a serious concern.

So, caregivers and family members should be aware of the conditions which may increase a senior's risk of falls and consider implementing safety measures.

Urinary incontinence is one reason we should consider how we design a senior's bedroom. 

Many factors affect bladder control in the elderly. And it can affect their routines, especially with sleep. 

Accidental leaks can cause wet spots and slips during the wee hours of the morning, even with the healthiest seniors.  

So it's best to think of adding sensors for nightlights to help them see better during the night. If the bathrooms are too far, have a bedside commode near by to reduce distance traveled to urinate at night. 

bedroom safety for the elderly

REM sleep behavior disorders can also cause unpredictable behaviors in seniors as they sleep. 

People who experience this act out vivid dreams through the sudden, violent arm and leg movements or vocal sounds. 

The symptoms experienced with it may indicate neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease, multiple system atrophy, or stroke.    

Uncontrollable jerks or body movements can also cause harm to them and their partners. 

The more rested our loved ones are, the better it will be for everyone.  

Read more about helpful tips for better sleep in the elderly here.

Best bedroom safety tools to have in 2022

Are you looking for the best bedroom safety tools to have in 2022? 

Here's a list of must-haves and good-to-haves for your seniors aging in place. 

Wireless Bed Alarm and Bed Pad

Bed pads and alarms are excellent for keeping your senior loved ones safe. 

Its features include a sensing device that lets you know if the patient is no longer in bed. In addition, it comes with a pressure sensor pad or an infrared signal. 

You can choose between a wireless or a corded alarm system. 

Wireless systems usually work within 100 to 300 feet of the bed. Corded systems often cost less and are connected directly to the sensing device near the patient. 

You can get a bed alarm on Amazon here

Bed rails

Bed rails can add a sense of safety for older adults, especially those with mobility issues.

Many options offer features for added convenience, such as foam for better grip, height adjustability, and storage compartments.

They're also used to prevent rolling out of bed or falling, especially when shifting positions or getting into and out of bed. 

Wedge Pillows and Mattresses

Bed wedges or pillows help seniors from falling out of bed. 

They're good options for supporting the body and are usually triangle-shaped. Plus, they're great alternatives to bed rails.

Some seniors with recurring back pain would also need lumbar support pillows. The right mattress can also prevent pressure ulcers from forming or worsening. 

Check out tips on how to prevent bedsores in the elderly here

Final thoughts 

While falls are the leading cause of injury and death for seniors, there are other dangers that we must be aware of in the bedroom. 

As caregivers, we must mitigate these risks and keep our loved ones safe. 

In the next blog post, we'll share more tips on keeping our elder's bedrooms safe. 

Feel free to share any tips we might have missed below. 

That's all for today.

Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!

Winn

Articles of Interest:

  1. HOME SAFETY FOR THE ELDERLY: TOP TIPS ON HOW TO AVOID ACCIDENTS
  2. HOW MOBILITY TRAINING CAN BENEFIT ELDERS AGING IN PLACE
  3. INCONTINENCE IN THE ELDERLY: HOW TO BETTER MANAGE

It's no secret that preventing bedsores in the elderly is much easier than healing them. 

According to the National Institute of Nursing Research, pressure ulcers afflict around 2 million people in the United States annually. Approximately 95% of those cases occur in individuals over 65. 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to preventing bedsores in the elderly. But caregivers can follow some practical tips to reduce the risks.

Today, we will continue our discussion on preventing bedsores in the elderly. 

Let's get started! 

Who is at risk for pressure ulcers? 

preventing bedsores in the elderly 2

Anyone can get pressure ulcers. However, some people are more at risk than others, especially those with limited mobility. 

As mentioned in my blog post last week, those who are 60 years old and older are more at risk compared to other age groups. 

But pressure ulcers can also happen to those confined in bed following surgery, spinal cord injury or illness. 

People who are obese are also more at risk of pressure ulcers. 

Those who suffer from bowel or urinary incontinence are also more prone to bedsores due to moisture-associated skin damage (MASD). 

Medical conditions such as diabetes, heart failure, kidney failure, multiple sclerosis (MS), and Parkinson's disease make it more likely for one to experience sores. 

These conditions can affect the blood flow and cause the skin to become more fragile.  

Poor nutrition and hydration may also cause the skin to break more easily, leading to bedsores. 

As a caregiver, the more you are aware of this, the better you can take care of your seniors. This way, you can avoid having to deal with bed sores altogether. 

5 Practical Tips on Preventing Bedsores in the Elderly 

Pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores, are a common and costly problem among the elderly. 

These painful sores develop when pressure cuts blood flow to a certain area, causing the tissue to break down. 

This pressure is usually caused by weight-bearing through a bony prominence such as the tailbone, hip or shoulder blade.

When left untreated, pressure ulcers can become infected, leading to serious health complications. 

Here are five practical tips on how caregivers can help avoid pressure ulcers in the elderly. 

Choose the right mattress, beds, and special cushions

It's best to get a pressure relief mattress for seniors at risk of developing bedsores. 

These mattresses are designed to provide the right support for the whole body. They redistribute a person's weight and reduce pressure on specific body areas. 

You can choose air, gel, foam, or hybrid mattresses. 

Foam mattresses are best for seniors with a low-level risk of pressure ulcers. 

Gel mattresses are much cooler than foam ones. This makes sleeping much more comfortable for patients. 

Choose low air loss mattresses if your loved ones already suffer from bed sores. 

This mattress has a pump that pushes air through tiny holes at the top. The air helps keep the patient cool and heal the pressure sores that have already developed. 

Get more information about pressure relief mattresses here

Nutrition and hydration matters

preventing bedsores in the elderly - nutrition

Keeping your loved ones hydrated and fed well should also be a priority. 

Hydration and nutrition play a huge role in keeping skin, fat and muscle cells healthy. It's also important for skin repair and preservation of these tissues. 

When the body is dehydrated, it disturbs cell metabolism and wound healing. 

Adequate amounts of fluid are necessary to keep the blood flowing properly in the body. 

Nutrients get evenly distributed in the body, making it easier to recover in case of damage. 

So ensure your elders get the right amount of fluids and nutrient-rich food. 

Clean bedsores properly 

In case your loved one's skin is already broken, the next best thing to do is to keep it clean. 

First things first, ask your healthcare provider for help. They can guide you through the correct process of cleansing the wound and avoiding more complications. 

Remove pressure on the affected area by monitoring the patient's position and changing it often.  

Use thera-honey, medicated gauze or special dressings on the wound to speed up its healing process. 

Ask about antiseptic creams or medicine you can use to treat infections. 

You could also learn the debridement process to remove damaged, infected, or dead tissue, but it may be best to leave that to the experts. 

Learn more about debridement here

Follow the right positions

preventing bedsores in the elderly - choose the right mattress

It's best to change the patient's position every two to four hours. This will help remove continuous pressure which causes damage. 

Two hours is the longest you should remain on areas already at risk of skin breakdown.

Consider slide sheets when changing your loved one's position, but be careful. These specialty sheets create a low friction surface.

This can reduce caregiver burden, but if not used properly, can cause a loved one to slide out of the bed.

Use cushions and positioning aids to protect all bony body parts such as the sacral regions, the hips and scapulas. 

Some positions you can use are as follows: 

Read more about bed positioning here. 

Prevention is better than cure. 

When it comes to pressure ulcers, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

Proper skin care is a must.

As a caregiver, it's important to check on your elderly's skin at least daily. Check for redness, wounds, or any signs of discoloration. 

Keep the right moisture levels and ensure the skin is neither dry nor too moist. 

Nutrition and hydration come first. But it also helps to apply moisturizers to keep the skin supple. 

And try not to massage bony areas to avoid any damage or breakage. 

Final thoughts 

Elderly individuals are especially susceptible to bedsores. 

And preventing bedsores in the elderly is possible by following some simple guidelines for nutrition, hydration, and positioning. 

Healthcare providers should always be consulted when caring for elderly patients. 

But family members can also help by being aware of the risk factors and watching for any signs of bedsores early on. 

Are there any other tips you can share with our readers on how to avoid this common problem?

That's all for today.

Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!

Winn

Articles of Interest:

  1. HOME SAFETY FOR THE ELDERLY: TOP TIPS ON HOW TO AVOID ACCIDENTS
  2. HOW HOME INSPECTIONS HELP AGING PARENTS STAY SAFE AT HOME
  3. HOW TO DEAL WITH DEMENTIA IN PARENTS: IMPORTANT TIPS FOR CAREGIVERS