Sarcopenia in nursing home residents

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2008 Oct;9(8):545-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2008.04.010.


The age-associated loss of muscle mass and muscle strength described by the term sarcopenia is highly relevant for functionality among nursing home residents. Nevertheless, the scientific literature concentrating on sarcopenia in this population is scarce. For practical reasons, common definitions of this entity, which rely on dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) and bioimpedance analysis (BIA), cannot be applied in this setting. Anthropometric measurements like arm muscle circumference and calf circumference seem to be most suitable. Handgrip may be used as an alternative. Prevalence data show a wide range but are mostly high. There is a close association of the degree of sarcopenia with dependence among residents. The pathophysiology of sarcopenia in this population is strongly influenced by comorbidity and often there is significant overlap with the cachexia syndrome. At present, physical exercise is regarded to be the most promising therapeutic option, with resistance training being superior to endurance programs. Physical exercise has been successful even among Alzheimer patients and physically restrained residents. It has to be accompanied by the provision of adequate and diverse meals based on individual energy and nutrient requirements. Special attention should be paid to the treatment of vitamin D deficiency if present. New therapeutic options include Whole Body Vibration, oral supplements with essential amino acids and leucine, ACE-inhibitors, and cytokine-modifying drugs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Muscular Atrophy* / diagnosis
  • Muscular Atrophy* / epidemiology
  • Muscular Atrophy* / physiopathology
  • Muscular Atrophy* / therapy
  • Nursing Homes*
  • United States / epidemiology