Sarcopenia and loss of strength

with advice from Daniel Butler, CEP

Sarcopenia and loss of strength

Sarcopenia, the loss of skeletal muscle mass, is a part of what has been called “the slippery slope of aging.”

As people age, they often start to experience sarcopenia, as well as osteopenia and osteoporosis. Having weaker muscles and bones, plus the arthritis caused by years of wear and tear, can make movement more difficult and painful. The pain leads to less activity, which contributes to weaker bones and muscles, making it even more difficult to move. And so on.

Doctors and scientists are still not quite sure what causes sarcopenia, but they have linked a number of factors to its development, according to the Mayo Clinic: age-associated hormone changes, physical inactivity, inflammation, and diseases like cancer and diabetes. Because inactivity can lead to sarcopenia, doctors encourage older adults to exercise more to build muscle mass.

Exercise increases hormone levels, builds muscle mass, and contributes to weight loss.Daniel Butler, a personal trainer and clinical exercise specialist who works at the Take Charge Fitness Program, a wellness facility run by Clinton Physical Therapy Center (a Physiquality network member in Tennessee), is an expert in helping people avoid age-related physical problems. He points out that exercise not only builds body mass, but it also releases some of the hormones that start to dwindle as we age, like testosterone and growth hormones.

In addition, it can help older adults lose weight, reducing the pain associated with arthritis; having more weight on your frame can exponentially increase the pressure on your joints. So activity increases hormone levels, builds muscle mass, and contributes to weight loss. Win, win, win!

If you haven’t been very active and don’t know where to begin, says Daniel, go for a walk. Walking doesn’t take any special skills, and in many areas of the country can be done outside year-round. If it’s too cold outside right now, he adds, there are several places to walk indoors, like shopping malls, commercial gyms and community centers.

Daniel notes that water exercise is a great alternative. Just like walking, it can be done indoors or outside, and the resistance provided by the water is enough to strengthen bones and muscles.

If you’re hesitant about trying a new activity on your own, talk to your physical therapist — PTs can create a walking or exercise program to build muscle mass at a rate that you are comfortable with. Use our locator to find a Physiquality therapist in your neighborhood.

It's important for seniors to avoid frailty.The key to aging well is avoiding frailty, the last step in the “slippery slope.” Daniel recommends keeping an eye on your bone density through DEXA scans, and then taking steps, such as proper diet and exercise, to maintain strong and healthy bones. He also notes that regular balance screenings can detect loss of equilibrium. If loss of balance is present, there are exercise and physical therapy protocols that can help restore balance.

The last point Daniel makes is that it’s important for seniors to be social. Meeting up with friends outside the house, whether you’re going for a walk or seeing a movie together, gets you off the couch and moving — and the more you move, the better you’ll feel.

 

Daniel Butler, CEP Daniel Butler, CEP, has been a personal trainer for more than 10 years at the Take Charge Fitness Program, a wellness facility run by Clinton Physical Therapy Center, a Physiquality network member in Clinton, Tennessee. A former Marine, Daniel holds certifications from the American College of Sports Medicine as a clinical exercise specialist and the Arthritis Foundation as an aquatic instructor, and he completed his B.S. in health administration in 2012.

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How Pilates and PT help you stay active as you get older

How Pilates and PT help you stay active as you get older

As we grow older, our bodies change. While it may sound counterintuitive, staying activeis the best solution when our joints start to ache and our energy starts to fade. (Isaac Newton probably had no idea he was also talking about the human body when he explained that a body at rest stays at rest, and a body in motion remains in motion.)

Two ways to remain in motion as we age are physical therapy and Pilates. As we’ve pointed out in the past, physical therapy helps maintain and improve your health as you age. “Therapy helps to promote an increased awareness of your body,” says physical therapist Rachelle Hill. At Moreau Physical Therapy (a Physiquality member in Louisiana), Rachelle and her fellow PTs apply therapy to improve posture and reduce back pain,evaluate gait to make walking more efficient and less painful, and improve balance toreduce the risk of falls, she explains.

If you're exercising incorrectly or compensating because of pain, you're at risk of doing more harm than good.In addition, if you’re exercising incorrectly or compensating because of pain, you’re at risk of doing more harm than good. “Doing the wrong exercise or doing an exercise incorrectly can result in more pain or even joint damage,” notes Kristina Holland, a physical therapist assistant at Clinton Physical Therapy Center in Clinton, Tennessee. Physical therapist Jessica Loncar agrees. She points out that exercise in a safe, controlled environment under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist goes a long way toward improving quality of life. A STOTT PILATES® Certified Instructor and Instructor Trainer for MERRITHEW™ (a Physiquality partner), Jessica reminds us that physical therapy is good for improving strength, balance, mobility and overall fitness.

Pilates exercises are designed to restore the natural curves of the spine and rebalance the muscles around the joints, with a focus on core stability, pelvic and shoulder girdle stabilization, neutral alignment and breathing. Pilates and physical therapy go hand in hand in teaching efficient movement patterns, which will keep us healthy as we age, explains Rachelle. Because Pilates focuses on proper back alignment and strengthening and lengthening the spine, she says, the back becomes stronger, preventing early wear and tear and reducing pain, as well as the risk of injury. This is key to staying active as one ages, as back pain often causes people to quit exercising for fear of further pain.

Many physical therapists often incorporate Pilates into their rehabilitation programs because of how it can be used to strengthen the body and improve flexibility with low-impact exercises. Mika Yoshida, a Pilates instructor at the Take Charge Fitness Program atClinton Physical Therapy Center, notes that this is especially beneficial after an injury or joint surgery, when one often loses range of motion in the affected joint. And while some of her students blame their lack of flexibility on their age, Mika reminds them that incorporating Pilates exercises into their daily or weekly regimen can improve their flexibility, regardless of their age.

Pilates is an excellent way to ease back into a more active lifestyle.If you’re dealing with joint pain or haven’t exercised in a while,Pilates is an excellent way to ease back into a more active lifestyle. A certified instructor like Jessica will know how to adapt exercises for your specific body and work with you to grow stronger. And if you take a class at a physical therapy clinic, you may end up with a physical therapist like Rachelle teaching your class. This means that she’ll zero in on any musculoskeletal weaknesses you have, and, if you need it, recommend coming into the clinic as a patient.

Practicing Pilates, says Mika, is like maintaining your car: You get an oil change for your car so that it can run for another 5,000 miles. You practice Pilates so that your body continues to move efficiently for years!

 

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What is dementia, and how does rehabilitation therapy help?

What is dementia, and how does rehabilitation therapy help?

Getting older can be scary. We worry about weaker bones and osteoporosis. We worry about losing our balance and falling, which can lead to serious injury. And many of us worry about losing our memory. Older adults and their family members should know that there is a difference between becoming a little more forgetful (what some elders call their “senior moments”) and the early signs of dementia.

Dementia is more than being forgetful; it’s categorized by the loss of cognitive skills, or the way that a person can consider and make decisions. The National Institutes of Health explain that compared to mild forgetfulness, dementia impacts daily life, interferes with decision-making, and affects every-day tasks. Dementia can affect “memory, language skills, visual perception, and the ability to focus and pay attention.” It is caused by damage to brain cells; when the brain’s cells can’t communicate properly, the way we navigate the world around us is affected.

Dementia is often but not always permanent.Dementia is not always permanent. It can be caused by excess fluid in the brain (normal pressure hydrocephalus), infections, head injuries and brain tumors, or reactions to alcohol or medication. If these conditions are treated, it is possible that the dementia will recede.

Unfortunately, most causes of dementia are irreversible.Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for as much as 80% of dementia cases. Alzheimer’s causes permanent changes in the brain, affecting short-term memory and learning at first, and eventually causing almost complete memory loss.Other irreversible causes of dementia include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease. Some people have a combination of conditions that cause the dementia, referred to as mixed dementia.

If you or a loved one is concerned about recent memory loss, the Alzheimer’s Association has posted 10 early signs that you might be at risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. If you are starting to feel confused when you solve problems, have issues completing familiar tasks at home or at work, or feel yourself withdrawing from work or social activities, it may be time to talk to your physician about whether you’re at risk for dementia.

The process of dementia can be slowed down with both medication and therapy.While irreversible dementia isn’t curable, the process can be slowed with both medications (prescribed by your doctor) and some types of rehabilitation therapy. Specially trained speech-language pathologists help patients with dementia and memory loss retain cognitive skills as long as possible. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the professional organization of speech-language pathologists, SLPs focus on the “cognitive aspects of communication, including attention, memory, sequencing, problem solving, and executive functioning.”

Others on the rehabilitation team can also help people with dementia. Occupational therapists can help to set up safe environments without obstacles; if the person is still living at home in the early stages of dementia, an OT can do an assessment to reduce the risk of falling and remove the risk of dangerous items (like flammable liquids or the use of the stove). OTs and SLPs can create a home environment where reminders are posted about daily tasks, helping the patient to remain independent for as long as possible. Andphysical therapists can work with the person to keep her physically active for as long as she is able, which can also contribute to slowing down memory loss, while reducing the chances of falling.

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How physical therapists can help seniors increase activity for healthy aging

Aging isn’t fun for anyone. Your memory starts to fade, your body slows down and gains weight, and your joints start to stiffen. And while no one can reverse or stop the aging process, one of the best ways to reduce the speed at which your body is changing is to be more active.

“As the years go by, staying active becomes one of the key factors in staying independent, pain-free and feeling good,” says Randy Gustafson, a physical therapist and the owner of Physiquality member Mesa Physical Therapy in San Diego, California. Exercise is known to help prevent and reduce such problems as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, along with its more obvious benefits of increasing strength and reducing — or at least maintaining — weight. And, Randy points out, better health from increased activity often allows patients to reduce their reliance on some medications, allowing patients to take them less frequently or sometimes quit them altogether.

If you want to exercise more but haven't done so in a while, walking is an easy activity to begin with.If you want to exercise more but haven’t done so in a while, walking is an easy activity to begin with. It’s low-impact and has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks. It doesn’t require training or special equipment, just a good pair of shoes. And it’s easy to measure your progress with a pedometer, or even simply timing your walks.

Mika Yoshida, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, recommends the Arthritis Foundation’s Walk With Ease program as a way to measure progress. As a fitness instructor at the Take Charge Fitness Program at Clinton Physical Therapy Center, a Physiquality member in Clinton, Tennessee, she often works with patients who are uneasy about returning to exercise after an injury or chronic illness. The Walk With Ease program offers local groups, where patients can walk with others hoping to improve their health, and guidelines if people prefer to create their own program. Read More

 

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How do physical therapists improve women’s health?

It can be easy to shrug off feminine pain or problems because it would be embarrassing to discuss them with, well, anyone. In honor of women’s health week, consider consulting one of the many physical therapists that has specialized in treating issues that are specific to women’s health, making them an excellent resource when your health problems can no longer be ignored.

Karen Munger, a physical therapist, chose to work at The Center for Physical Rehabilitation, a Physiquality clinic in western Michigan, because the owners supported her efforts to develop a women’s health program there. They provided her with the education and equipment necessary to evaluate and treat such issues as pelvic floor dysfunction, including pelvic pain and urinary incontinence; constipation-related issues and bowel incontinence; postpartum problems; and core retraining.

Some PT clinics offer programs for urinary incontinence and pelvic pain, catering to a wide range of women.Karen is quick to remind readers that these programs are not just for women that have gone through pregnancy. “Our urinary incontinence program caters to young athletes, post-partum mothers and older women alike,” she says. And the clinic’s pelvic pain program covers a variety of issues, including vulvodynia, dyspareunia (or painful intercourse), vaginismus, painful bladder syndrome, coccyx (or tailbone) pain, groin pain, sacroiliac pain and abdominal pain.

– See more at: http://www.physiquality.com/blog/?p=7794#sthash.f4nP3s13.dpuf

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Can you improve your memory as you age?

We all have skips in our memory from time to time — misplacing our keys, forgetting an event or appointment, or failing to remember the name of an acquaintance. But as we age, particularly as we reach and pass the age of 65, it is easy to wonder if such small lapses in our memory can be signs of something more serious, like Alzheimer’s disease, or dementia.

The good news is that most of us won’t develop such serious diseases; fewer than 1 in 5 people over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s disease, for example. The bad news is that some memory loss is common as we age — the American Psychological Association says that both our “episodic memory,” which remembers the small things in our daily lives, as well as our long-term memory, which stretches back to childhood, will decline as we grow older.

Thankfully, recent studies point to a variety of ways that we can reduce age-related memory loss and improve how our brain works from day to day. Tips from the Mayo Clinic and the American Psychological Association on ways to improve our memory include:

Mental activity can keep your brain in better shape.

  • Staying mentally active.

Mental activity can keep your brain in better shape, and this can be done in a variety of ways. You can do mind games, like crossword puzzles, or computer training games designed to improve mental acuity. You can learn how to speak a new language or play an instrument. Even volunteering at the local school or library can push you to consider new challenges and organize your environment, keeping your brain active.  Read More

What is osteoporosis? Can it be prevented?

As we age, our bodies are not as healthy as they were when we were younger. Muscles are slower to react. Joints are not as fluid as before. And bones are weaker than they were in our youth.

Osteoporosis is a bone disease most commonly found in older women, particularly those of Caucasian or Asian descent. Literally translated as “porous bone,” osteoporosis happens when bone density has decreased and the bones have become brittle. Unfortunately, the early symptoms of osteoporosis are easy to miss, like back pain or stooped posture. This is why most people don’t find out that they have the disease until they break a bone.

Your bones are constantly changing and creating new bone cells. When you’re younger and growing, your body creates more bone than it loses. This shifts as we reach our mid-20s, when our bodies slow down the process and we’ve reached our peak bone mass, or bone thickness.

Literally translated as "porous bone," osteoporosis happens when bone density has decreased and the bones have become brittle.
 

By the time we’re in our 50s and 60s, the process has reversed, and we’re losing more bone cells than we’re producing.  Read More

How to adapt your workout as you age

As you get older, it’s easy to let your exercise regimen slip away. Schedules get more complicated with work, spouses and children. Bodies don’t respond as well to high-intensity workouts or longer bouts of activity. But it’s important to stay active for the long run — for a variety of reasons.

As we age, the goal of our activity may shift from weight-loss or general health to more specific goals. Injury and even death from falls is an unfortunate trend for older adults — as adults approach their 70s, they need to consider how to improve their balance and reduce their chances of falling.

There are lots of exercises and programs to improve balance that can be done at the gym or at home.There are lots of exercises and programs to improve balance that can be done at the gym or at home. Lee Spieker, the founder and CEO of Physiquality partner program Railyard Fitness, lists a variety of exercises that challenge balance and coordination:

You can also use a balance board to challenge your balance at a higher level….. Read more