Ages nearing or surpassing the life expectancy of human beings and the human life cycle is considered old age. Sometimes referred to as seniors, old people, senior citizens, older adults, the elderly, and elders. They often have limited regenerative abilities and are susceptible to disease, injuries, sickness more than younger adults. Here channel news asia.com, by Jane E. Broady, New York Times, reflects on preventing muscle loss:
“Sarcopenia, a decline in skeletal muscle in older people, contributes to loss of independence.
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My young friends at the Y say I’m in great shape, and I suppose I am compared to most 77-year-old women in America today. But I’ve noticed in recent years that I’m not as strong as I used to be. Loads I once carried rather easily are now difficult, and some are impossible.
Thanks to an admonition from a savvy physical therapist, Marilyn Moffat, a professor at New York University, I now know why. I, like many people past 50, have a condition called sarcopenia — a decline in skeletal muscle with age. It begins as early as age 40 and, without intervention, gets increasingly worse, with as much as half of muscle mass lost by age 70. (If you’re wondering, it’s replaced by fat and fibrous tissue, making muscles resemble a well-marbled steak.)
“Sarcopenia can be considered for muscle what osteoporosis is to bone,” Dr John E Morley, geriatrician at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, wrote in the journal Family Practice. He pointed out that up to 13 per cent of people in their 60s and as many as half of those in their 80s have sarcopenia.
As Dr Jeremy D Walston, geriatrician at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, put it, “Sarcopenia is one of the most important causes of functional decline and loss of independence in older adults.”
Yet few practicing physicians alert their older patients to this condition and tell them how to slow or reverse what is otherwise an inevitable decline that can seriously impair their physical and emotional well-being and ability to carry out the tasks of daily life. Sarcopenia is also associated with a number of chronic diseases, increasingly worse insulin resistance, fatigue, falls and, alas, death.
WHY IT HAPPENS
A decline in physical activity, common among older people, is only one reason sarcopenia happens. Other contributing factors include hormonal changes, chronic illness, bodywide inflammation and poor nutrition.
But — and this is a critically important “but” — no matter how old or out of shape you are, you can restore much of the strength you already lost. Moffat noted that research documenting the ability to reverse the losses of sarcopenia — even among nursing home residents in their 90s — has been in the medical literature for 30 years, and the time is long overdue to act on it.”
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