Expert Advice

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CAUSES OF SARCOPENIA

Q: What causes muscle loss?

Experts think that several factors contribute to muscle loss (also known as sarcopenia). Physical inactivity is one of them but it’s not the whole story, since active people also lose muscle. Other reasons might include age-related hormonal changes that reduce muscle cell growth, reduced nerve activity, inflammation, insufficient protein or calorie consumption, and a decline in our body’s ability to get energy from protein.

Researchers are working to better understand sarcopenia. For example, one recent study looked at whether eating more protein can help prevent muscle loss in older adults (conclusion: Probably yes, but further research is needed). Another study has explored the connection between muscle health and declining nerve activity (conclusion: Regular exercise might help to grow new nerves and preserve muscle mass and strength). The search for answers continues. In the meantime, we can slow muscle loss by living a healthy lifestyle, eating well and exercising regularly.

 

UP AT NIGHT

Q: My caregiving duties are causing me to lose sleep. Any suggestions?

Caring for a family member is a labour of love that delivers both rewards and hardships. Sleep deprivation is a common consequence of being on-call day and night. And even without disruptions, many carers have trouble falling  staying asleep.

Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t eat a meal big snack before bedtime.
  • Avoid drinking coffee, tea or caffeinated soft drinks and eating chocolate in the afternoon or evening.
  • Try to go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Avoid screen devices for at least 30 minutes before bed.

 

MEALTIME MANAGEMENT

Q: I’m worried that my dad isn’t eating enough. He has no appetite and is becoming frail.

As we age, it’s not uncommon to eat smaller amounts because we are less active and require fewer calories. However, we still need three nutritious meals a day to prevent vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition, which can lead to serious conditions. It’s therefore important to keep an eye out for signs that an older loved one may not be eating properly. Here are some tips to keep nutrition levels high.

1) For a nutrient-rich diet, spread peanut or other nut butters on toast and crackers; sprinkle finely chopped nuts or wheat germ on yogurt, fruit and cereal; add extra egg whites to scrambled eggs and omelettes; use whole milk; and add cheese to sandwiches, vegetables, soups, rice and noodles.

2) Use lemon juice, herbs and spices to flavour bland foods.

3) Provide nutritional supplements, such as multivitamins (with a doctor’s approval).

4) If your loved one is not feeling well or is unwilling to eat, try tempting them with meat or vegetable broths as a temporary option. Homemade soups can be just as nutritious as any other meal.

5) Encourage healthy food choices for meals and snacks. Choosing a piece of fruit or cheese, a spoonful of peanut butter or a fruit smoothie is a good way to get extra nutrients and calories between meals.

6) Speak to their doctor if you suspect they have poor nutrition and ask for a referral to a registered dietitian.

 

Many thanks to Caregiver Solutions for sharing these articles with our community

 

Posted by Jordan Kalist

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