Anyone can get a urinary tract infection or UTI, but older adults tend to have this problem often, and left untreated, it can cause serious complications. That’s why a urinary tract infection in elderly patients needs to be recognized quickly and treated properly before it becomes a real danger to their health.
What Is a Urinary Tract Infection?
A UTI is an infection in one or more of the urinary system’s parts such as the bladder, kidneys, and urethra. Most of these infections start in the lower urinary tract and affect the urethra and bladder. The infection can spread to the kidneys, and this is when things become more serious.
This type of infection is more common in women than in men.
Causes of Urinary Tract Infections
What causes urinary tract infection in elderly is the same thing that causes it in younger people: bacteria. Bacteria can enter your urethra, and if your immune system doesn’t fight it off, then it can spread to your bladder and finally to your kidneys.
For the elderly, dementia or living in an assisted living facility can increase the likelihood of falling victim to this type of infection. Nursing home patients tend to have higher rates of UTIs, and older adults who wear incontinence briefs or use catheters are at a higher risk of developing an infection as well. Incontinence and lackluster hygiene are also reasons that recurrent urinary tract infection in elderly people is common.
Persistent urinary tract infections in the elderly can lead to other issues. These complications of urinary tract infection in elderly people include kidney infections, which can lead to kidney failure if not treated in time.
Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection
There are a set of typical urinary tract infection symptoms and then additional urinary tract infection symptoms in elderly people.
Some of the classic symptoms include:
- Pain in your back or stomach
- Burning when you urinate
- Fever and chills
- Dark or cloudy urine
- Unusual-smelling urine
- Frequent need to urinate
Additional symptoms in the elderly can include lethargy, agitation, falling, incontinence, decreased appetite, and decreased mobility.
Urinary Tract Infection Care Plan
The typical first response care plan for UTI is antibiotics. If you have a simple infection, antibiotics should clear up your infection in a few days, but you will need to take the entire course of prescribed antibiotics.
If you have frequent infections, then your doctor may want you to take a low dose of antibiotics for 6 months or longer. For postmenopausal women, vaginal estrogen therapy may be suggested. What’s most important is that if you have the symptoms of urinary tract infection, you need to see your doctor as soon as possible.
Prompt treatment can reduce your chances of having more serious issues down the line. If you are a caretaker of a senior loved one, it is important to ensure that proper hygiene standards are followed. This is especially true if your loved one suffers from dementia or some other illness that can lead to incontinence.
A urinary tract infection is certainly an annoyance, but it can be treated quickly and easily, and with proper hygiene, it can even be avoided in many cases.