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Ezra Home Care: How to Stop Age-related Muscle Loss

Stopping age-related muscle loss

What are some good ways to halt and reverse age-related muscle loss, which makes it hard to do such tasks such as climb stairs, lift groceries, and walk around the block?

Severe muscle loss, called sarcopenia, is gaining more attention as a disease that could lead to immobility, falls, and perhaps earlier death.

Researchers acknowledge that the best treatment is prevention: Anyone over the age of 30 should aim to lift weights at least twice a week to retain muscle. Eating protein throughout your day helps build lean tissue and fuel your body.

photo credit: Mark's Daily apple

Every ten years, older adults lose about 3 percent of their lean body mass, mostly muscle, according to Dr. David Heber, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of California, Los Angeles. This incremental loss of strength, called sarcopenia, is a stealth danger, increasing the risk of hospitalization and death as the years go by. In the United States, an estimated 53 percent of men and 43 percent of women over 80 are sarcopenic.

The loss of muscle can be difficult to detect partly because caregivers and physicians tend to focus on total weight as a measure of an elderly person’s health. Even when weight loss is desirable, it can be accompanied by muscle loss.

Scary fact read on Boston.com: “A 70-year-old active individual is probably younger from a biomarker standpoint - muscle strength, balance, body composition, blood pressure, cholesterol levels - than a 40-year-old inactive individual,’’ said Miriam Nelson, a professor of nutrition at Tufts University.

Weight-lifting classes for seniors have become trendy at senior centers, and assisted-living facilities for all residents; not just for those trying to avoid becoming reliant on canes, walkers or wheelchairs.

It is important to remember to eat enough protein throughout the day in addition to weight training.  “The body is constantly synthesizing new muscle but it needs protein to do it,’’ said Douglas Paddon-Jones, a sarcopenia researcher at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.  According to Dr. Murphy of Weston Primary Care, " The elderly need to make sure they are eating their protein; often times they bypass eating harder to chew meat and go right for the easy to eat carbs; easier to digest proteins can help curb this problem."


More useful articles:

"Treating the Muscle Loss that comes with Old Age"

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