Sarcopenia is a condition where muscle mass decreases, which affects strength. It often occurs with aging affecting as much as 27% of older adults. The older you are, the higher the risk.
Why is this such a concern? People with sarcopenia are more likely to fall, and older adults often live alone. If your mom falls, how long is it before someone is around to check on her? If she fell and hit her head, is someone in the home going to notice it right away? If she fell and couldn’t get up due to a fracture, would it be days before you stop by?
What Causes the Loss of Muscle?
What causes sarcopenia? Several factors contribute to it.
- Age – After the age of 30, people lose about 3% to 5% of their muscle mass every decade.
- Health problems – Certain chronic health conditions, such as COPD, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis, increase the risk.
- Nutritional deficiencies – A diet with too little protein is a major factor.
- A sedentary lifestyle – Lack of exercise can increase the rate at which muscle mass and strength are lost.
This impacts a person’s mobility and quality of life. People with sarcopenia find it difficult to do things like get up from a chair or bed, walk up and down the stairs, or maintain balance when walking. Lifestyle changes can help slow muscle loss.
Without full muscle strength, it’s harder to adjust and maintain balance if you trip, stumble, or slip on water or ice. This heightens the risk of a fall, and many falls can lead to broken bones or head injuries, which can worsen sarcopenia.
Three Things to Do to Slow the Progression
First, your mom needs to improve her diet. Protein is essential, but she also should cut foods high in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar. A diet that’s high in lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and dairy helps the cells throughout the body stay healthy.
Second, exercise is essential. If rheumatoid arthritis pain limits your mom’s daily activities, have her work with a physical therapist. Her physical therapist can help her build muscle and improve her balance. The more active your mom is, the better it is for her body and mind.
People don’t often realize that sarcopenia impacts your life. People who worry about walking around outside or going shopping alone are more likely to become socially isolated and depressed. That’s another reason why physical therapy is so important to slow the progression of muscle loss.
Third, your mom needs to take care of her health. If she has rheumatoid arthritis, she needs to see her doctor regularly and take any prescribed medications. She must follow her doctor’s recommended treatment plan, which may require her to use a cane or walker as needed and rely on grab bars when taking a shower or bath.
A physical therapist is essential to helping improve your mom’s balance and stamina. Talk to a physical therapy practice to make arrangements and learn more about prices.
If you or someone you know needs physical therapy in St. Cloud, MN, contact Adara Home Health. We provide quality and affordable home care services for many fragile or senior members in the communities we serve. Call us at (888) 660-5772 for more information.