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Your Registered Dietitian (RD) can perform a nutritional assessment to determine interventions that may be appropriate for residents – through the nutrition-focused physical exam, biochemical data and labs, and resident/staff interviews to determine overall oral intake status. They will also take food and drink, snack, supplement, and mealtime preferences into consideration. Ensuring adequate energy/calorie and protein intakes is essential treatment and prevention for sarcopenia, along with physical activity as tolerated.

Adequate calorie and protein intakes are important when treating sarcopenia. Recommendations for adults varies depending on age, typically adults need 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, while some expert groups recommend 1-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for those over 65 years of age for maintenance, with even higher protein needs for those suffering from sarcopenic obesity. Snacks, fortified foods, and oral nutritional supplements are great ways to add extra protein and calories for residents, along with liberalizing resident diets, as able, to maximize menu choices and meal intakes. Snack and fortified food options can include:

  • fortified hot cereal at breakfast, fortified puddings, and milk at meals
  • deli sandwiches
  • peanut butter or cheese with crackers
  • Adding powdered milk to food items such as potatoes or milk at meals
  • Cottage cheese or full fat yogurt with fruit
  • Use of protein powders or items such as Carnation Instant Breakfast to make milkshakes
    • Ice cream is also a great addition to this

Additional considerations should be given to Vitamin D, as the association between vitamin D deficiency and low muscle strength has been noted. Dairy products and oral nutritional supplements can also offer calcium and vitamin D. Research also suggests utilizing physical and occupational therapies, as well as a facilities’ restorative programs to maximize daily activity and strength. This along with optimizing a resident’s nutritional status can improve overall outcomes and remains the gold standard for sarcopenia intervention and prevention. Coordination between the intradisciplinary team, including therapy and your RD, remains important for resident outcomes.

Sources:

Brown-Riggs, C. (2017). Sarcopenic Obesity — An Ominous Duo. Today’s Geriatric Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.todaysgeriatricmedicine.com/archive/JF17p30.shtml

Walston J. D. (2012). Sarcopenia in older adults. Current opinion in rheumatology24(6), 623–627. https://doi.org/10.1097/BOR.0b013e328358d59b

Dorner, B., & Posthauer, M. (2012). Nutrition’s Role in Sarcopenia Prevention. Today’s Geriatric Medicine. doi:https://www.todaysgeriatricmedicine.com/archive/050712p18.shtml