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What is Sarcopenia and is it Preventable?

By December 12, 2018Disease, What Is

Sarcopenia is the reduction of muscle mass that adults experience in middle and old age. Although it can begin as young as 50 or so, the muscle loss becomes more rapid at any point from age 65 to 85. Sarcopenia is often what causes older adults to become frail and more likely to fall and injure themselves than younger adults.

Sarcopenia can inhibit an individual’s ability to live independently. Having a home healthcare aide can help an individual with sarcopenia regain some of his or her independence. Contact United Energy Workers Healthcare and Four Corners Health Care to learn about the free home healthcare services we provide.

Sarcopenia Causes

The main cause of sarcopenia is advanced age. Specifically, it is caused by a reduction in the number of nerve cells responsible for sending signals from the muscles to the brain to spark muscle movement and the conversion of protein into energy. Sedentary individuals experience sarcopenia at a more rapid rate than physically fit individuals, but every adult experiences sarcopenia to some extent in his or her later years.

Factors that can accelerate sarcopenia’s progress include:

  • A poor diet;
  • Stress; and
  • Inflammation.

Is Sarcopenia Preventable?

Beginning at about age 50, adults lose about 3 percent of their muscle mass each year. An individual cannot completely prevent this natural part of aging, but he or she can slow sarcopenia’s progress and choose to actively build and maintain muscle mass in middle age and later.

One way an older adult can slow sarcopenia is resistance training. By working out with weights and resistance bands, an individual can maintain muscle mass by improving his or her neuromuscular system’s ability to convert protein into energy.

Sarcopenia Treatments

Staying physically fit and focusing on resistance training is one way to manage sarcopenia. Other treatments that can slow sarcopenia’s progress include:

  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT). For women, HRT can increase lean body mass and reduce abdominal fat accumulation. Additionally, testosterone supplements and growth hormone supplements as treatments for sarcopenia are currently being investigated; and
  • Medication. Specifically, Urocortin II has been proven to be effective at stimulating the release of the adrenocorticotropic hormone, the hormone that stimulates the release of cortisol. This drug can be used to keep an immobilized individual from experiencing severe muscle atrophy, but like hormone replacement therapy, its effects have not yet been fully studied and determined to be an appropriate sarcopenia treatment.

Work with a Home Healthcare Service Provider to Care for your Loved One

Sarcopenia can severely limit an individual’s ability to care for him- or herself. If your loved one’s sarcopenia is limiting his or her ability to live independently and he or she is a beneficiary of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) or the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (DOL EEOICPA),  he or she could qualify for free home healthcare service from United Energy Workers Healthcare and Four Corners Health Care. Contact our team today to set up your consultation and learn more.