Geriatric medicine has recently focused on the biological mechanisms contributing to disability in the activities of daily living (ADLs), with special emphasis given to the study of sarcopenia, an age-related decline in muscle mass. Explaining the etiology of sarcopenia may provide useful information for the development of targeted interventions, especially those that are pharmacological in nature. However, exploratory studies aimed at evaluating the long-term effects of a particular intervention are costly and time consuming in a clinical setting. Therefore there is a need for preclinical testing of the efficacy of pharmacotherapies. This review provides (1) example of factors that contribute to the incidence of disability; (2) the conceptualization of a widely accepted human model of disability applied to an animal model; and (3) information on the potential advantages that may be realized from such translational research.