As a middle-aged adult, you may notice signs that your parent is losing strength. One of the primary reasons that muscle weakness develops in the elderly is decreased physical activity. Physically inactive people can lose 3 to 5 percent of their muscle mass each year after the age of 30. It is estimated that by age 75%, many adults have lost 50% of their total muscle mass.
What can help prevent muscle loss? While you should always consult your physician on questions specific to your personal health, these suggestions may help.
Eat foods rich in protein: elderly people often are not eating enough calories and meat sometimes becomes a food they don’t enjoy. Eggs, fish, turkey or chicken, dairy, and beans or other legumes offer high protein content that may be easier to chew and digest; these foods also have high levels of amino acids, necessary for muscle development.
Get some exercise: if your parent or loved one is not able to go to the gym, suggest other activities that can safely be done. A walk around the block, using a cane or walker if needed, helps keep muscles strong; be cautious of uneven surfaces though, especially if balance is an issue. If an outdoor walk is not feasible, work on stretching exercises and mild weights at home. Even keeping a can of sliced peaches next to the recliner for arm curls keeps muscles working! Several chair exercises for seniors can also be found online.
Check your Vitamin D level: sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin”, Vitamin D is absorbed from exposure to the sun. It helps regulate calcium and phosphate, nutrients that muscles and bones need. When elderly people spend more time indoors, they may not be getting enough Vitamin D; ask your physician if a supplement would be helpful. A deficiency of Vitamin D can also cause poor sleep quality.
We understand how important it is for every elderly person to live comfortably at home for as long as possible. At FootPrints Home Care, we serve seniors across the central region of New Mexico, helping with non-medical home care. If we can serve you or your family, please give us a call.