Sarcopenia is a disease primarily associated with the aging process. It is the loss of muscle mass and strength as we age and it is mainly affected by the amount of exercise we do, the presence of other medical conditions and nutrition. It can affect up to 10% of adults over the age of 50. Scientists have in the past regarded this process as inevitable – leading to a loss of function and disability. Sarcopenia can pose significant issues as we have an aging population and it can reduce life expectancy, affect the quality of life of older individuals, and affect their ability to live independently in the community. 

What can we do about it?

Immobility and not using your muscles is one of the strongest triggers of sarcopenia, this is often made worse by illness or injuries that enforce a reduced level of activity. The old adage of “if you don’t use it you lose it” has never been more appropriate. Regular exercise and activity is vital and it is important to plan to return to previous routines and function post illness or injury if possible. Reduced levels of protein and calorie intake are also common with older individuals. Changes in taste and appetite, and lack of interest in shopping and healthy food preparation can lead to a poor diet. The inflammation associated with chronic diseases and severe stress on the body also need to be managed as we age. Regular visits to your GP or specialists with ongoing assistance to manage chronic diseases is vital, but of course prevention is better than cure! Addressing these issues when we are younger and developing a healthy exercise and dietary lifestyle will go a long way in preventing many of the issues associated with aging.

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