Muscles naturally grow in both strength and size until age 30. Then muscle mass and strength start to decline — by as much as 3% to 5% each year. In sarcopenia, muscle loss is significant enough to endanger health. According to the International Sarcopenia Initiative, sarcopenia affects one-third of adults over age 50, and is one aspect of frailty syndrome and wasting syndrome.
How Is Sarcopenia Diagnosed?
Sarcopenia is defined as muscle mass below two standard deviations from the mean for healthy young adults. However, muscle mass is difficult to measure. Clinically, sarcopenia can be diagnosed with a simple questionnaire, called SARC-F.
SARC-F is an acronym that stands for Strength, Assistance in walking, Rising from a chair, Climbing stairs, and Falls. The questionnaire scores answers on the scale of 0 to 2 to the
- How much difficulty do you have lifting and carrying 10 pounds?
- How much difficulty do you have walking across the room?
- How much difficulty do you have transferring from a chair or bed?
- How much difficulty do you have climbing a flight of ten stairs?
- How many times have you fallen in the past year?
A score of 4 or higher indicates sarcopenia.
How is Sarcopenia Treated?
Exercise is a mainstay of treatment for sarcopenia. Resistance exercise is considered the best form of treatment, but any exercise that improves strength and balance is useful. The most important thing is to find an exercise that a person can do on a regular basis.
Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked with decreased muscle function. Those with sarcopenia are often advised to take Vitamin D supplements.
Beacon of LIFE, in Oceanport, NJ, is a government-approved PACE program that allows frail seniors — those who are certified as meeting the need for nursing home level of care— the ability to live healthy lives in their own homes.
We even encourage physical activity among this frail group, offering yoga, chair exercise — and even line dancing — further bolstering their physical and emotional health.
Think physical exercise is too much for people so infirm? While medical clearance is obviously required before any older person can start a physical exercise regimen, recent research, published in The BMJ, shows that individuals as old as 79 and had been completely inactive for long periods of time saw significant benefits from beginning an exercise program.
We prioritize preventive care, and have everything our participants need onsite in our facility. Not just their doctors and not just their physical therapists, even their dentists, and even their hair stylists!
And what if they can’t get to our facility? We provide the transportation. We bring our participants to our center, as well as to any medical appointments they have with specialists at other locations. We even provide an assistant to go with the member if they need someone with them at the appointment.
We also make sure our participants have a healthy diet, by providing nutritional guidance (and daily meals!), even delivering meals to their homes if required.