Stay Independent as You Get Older

The more you do, the longer you can plan to do it!

Muscle and Bone will rapidly decrease after age 50 if you aren't active

This condition is often a function of aging referred to as sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is a condition first indentified by Dr Irwin Rosenberg in the early 1990's to describe the affect on body function as it related to muscle loss. Patients above age 65 describe having a harder time fulfilling activities that were usually much easier for them, such as cleaning up around the house or walking long distances.
A recent survey (published October 2017) of older adults diagnosed as suffering from sarcopenia described the difficulties in living normally and how limited they felt in activities as a result of the effects of this condition. The participants described themselves as feeling weak, or that their core muscle loss meant that they needed to sit down more often. They also responded that getting in and out of cars or rising from chairs has become a tedious task compared to years earlier.

Many of the participants noted that improper diet and lack of physical activity were at the root of what was causing their increased frailty, however, these were often coupled with other issues such as extended bed rest or social isolation. The study demonstrates that pathologic changes in mood or social interaction is a contributor to the symptoms associated with sarcopenia.

Personal and social responsibility for combating this disease

The usual response to problems of bone density and muscle loss is to plug up the hole with lots of exercise. While this diagnosis fits the equation, it lacks proper context for it to be successful. It assumes that a patient or client is totally independent as well as ready and willing to take up the challenge of finding appropriate activity for their age. Advising someone "to get more exercise" who may currently be experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, or social isolation is going to be harder to accomplish.

Lowering the opportunity cost of getting exercise may be the best answer to helping combat the loss of independence resulting from sarcopenia. This would include creating a semi-social environment for exercise as a way to interact with other people your age, a structured and supervised exercise environment to prevent injury, and regular follow with exercise, medical and mental health professionals to track progress.

Looking for some support in helping yourself or someone you know be more independent?

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