If you have an aging parent, the chances are good that they may struggle with UTIs. After all, the risk of this type of infection increases from 5% to up to 16% in those over 65 years of age and to 20% in those over 80 years old. This is why it is important for you to recognize UTI symptoms in the elderly.
Bear in mind that urinary tract infection symptoms can be confused with dementia and are not always as clear cut like some would believe it to be. It is important to differentiate between these two to ensure the right treatment is given.
Fortunately, our immune systems play a major role in urinary tract infection, which can be treated at any stage. As we age, our immune system becomes less effective and is at least partially responsible for increases in incidence of UTI.
When an older person does not know they are have an infection with their urinary tract, it may lead to serious health problems and discomfort in both men and women.
Symptoms of UTI include:
In addition to these symptoms, the elderly may also experience, delirium, confusion, or changes in their behavior such as; hallucination, agitation, social withdrawal, restlessness.
The effects of aging make it challenging to detect urinary tract infections and at times, hard to cure. Their immune systems are generally weaker and make it hard for their defense systems to fight rapidly multiplying fungus or bacteria.
The moment bacteria makes its way into the urinary tract, the chances of developing UTI symptoms exist. The inside of the bladder is an environment made for bacteria to reproduce as it is dark, warm, wet and full of nutrients.
Many seniors struggle with weakened bladder and pelvic floor muscles, which can lead to incontinence. This is often a precursor to bacterial issues inside the urinary tract.
Bladder prolapse is a common condition among the elderly where the bladder drops down to the extent that the elderly person is unable to fully empty their bladder. The urine left behind creates favorable conditions for bacteria to multiply.
Be on the lookout for signs of a UTI in the days following a hospitalization. This is especially important in cases where a catheter was inserted during their stay. Catheterization significantly increases the risk for UTI as it can be a direct pathway for germs to enter the bladder.
The main culprits that play a major role in urinary tract infections in the elderly would be bacteria called staphylococci or enterococci. These multiply speedily. The aging's immune systems are weaker and often fail to fight infection as effectively as during their younger years.
Other medical conditions that often result in UTI in seniors include; poor hygiene, diabetes, immobility, and complications from medicine.
Senior caregivers often find that the elderly person they care for cannot verbally communicate their pain. In this case, observation and changes from baseline can be the first UTI symptoms to become noticeable in the elderly. Be on the look out for symptoms including poor motor skills, dizziness or unsteadiness with walking.
Other physical UTI symptoms in the elderly may present as burning pain with urination, frequency of urination, a low-grade fever, night sweats or chills, or foul-smelling urine.
One of the first things to do when you notice signs of a urinary tract infection is to make an appointment with their physician. It very unlikely to vanish on its own, and is more likely to become worse with every passing day. This is especially true when it is a senior with a weakened immune system.
Their doctor will most likely prescribe an antibiotic. As a caregiver, be sure your loved one takes their medication as prescribed to be sure to get rid of the infection. They should be encouraged to drink plenty of water as it will help to clean the urinary tract and avoid dehydration, which can make UTIs more common.
Do not take any signs of UTI in the elderly lightly once you notice any of the symptoms mentioned previously. This is especially important with more debilitated individuals. It is an infection that can turn ugly and complications may arise.
Urinary tract infections in the elderly may lead to major health problems such as chronic kidney infections. This can cause serious damage to your kidneys if ignored for any length of time.
Once there are no more signs of urinary tract infection, preventative measures need to be put in place to reduce risk of future UTIs. Setting up a schedule to urinate every 2 hours or so will reduce the risk. It is also very important to maintain proper hygienic practices.
Ensure they regularly change their underwear or diaper/pads. Also if assistance is required for toileting and peri care, wiping a female individual from front to back should always be the technique.
The key thing to remember with aging individuals is that they will ultimately lose certain abilities that were natural to them at one stage. This is where a caregiver or relative can step in to render assistance and regularly be on the lookout for UTI symptoms in the elderly.
That's all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!