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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!