Sarcopenia is a medical condition where muscle mass and function declines. It’s most common with the elderly and can impact mobility and quality of life. While it can happen to any older adult, it’s commonly associated with a lack of activity and rheumatoid arthritis.
How can you tell if sarcopenia is present? If you’ve noticed your mom or dad has a weak grip, walks slowly, or has noticeable muscle weakness when standing or trying to do things like pushing a vacuum around, lift a pet, or carry a box into the home. It’s important to talk to the doctor if you notice signs like these.
Diet Impacts Muscles
Diet can impact muscle health, too. Protein is important. Some seniors fail to eat enough protein each day. Some of this is due to confusion over what’s safe to eat and what isn’t. Over the years, eggs have been deemed good for people, then cholesterol in eggs became a concern, and people were told to limit their intake. The same has been said of meats like chicken, pork, etc.
If your parents have a hard time deciding what proteins are best, have them talk to their doctor and arrange to speak to a dietitian. With guidance from medical experts, you can get them to come up with meal and snack ideas that they will eat that also meet their nutritional goals.
Remind them that good sources of protein go behind meat and eggs. Beans like edamame and lentils are high in protein. They’ll also get protein from tofu, nuts, yogurt, and cheese.
Exercises to Help Build Muscle Mass
Diet is important, but your parents also need to work on building muscle mass. Here are five exercises they need to do each day to help tone muscles throughout the body.
#1 – Overhead Presses: Have your parents sit in a chair while holding small weights. One or two-pound weights are sufficient. They’ll bring their hands up in front of them so that their forearms face their body. Lift the arms towards the ceiling to a point that doesn’t hurt but is making the muscle do some work. Repeat those in a set of 10. Turn the forearm away and repeat.
#2 – Hip Stretches: Your parent wants to stand a foot behind a chair. Lift one leg off the ground behind them while pointing the toes at the floor. Have them repeat this 10 times and switch legs. Return to the first leg, but this time lift the leg to the side instead of behind. Repeat with the other leg.
#3 – Wall Push-Ups: Have your parents place their hands against a wall and step back one step. They’ll do push-ups from the standing position. Bend the elbows so that they bring their face close to the wall, then push back so that they’re in the starting position. Do this 12 times a day.
Elder care aides are important if sarcopenia is affecting your parent’s mobility. Don’t let them risk a fall while trying to do things like carrying laundry to the laundry room, go to the bathroom at night, or get out of a chair. Elder care aides offer a supporting arm for those activities and can make sure they’re safe getting in and out of the shower. Call our elder care agency to make arrangements.