Itchiness. Burning. An urgent need to use the bathroom. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of suffering from a urinary tract infection (UTI), you know these symptoms on a personal level. For younger individuals, a UTI is often reasonably easy to identify and deal with. However, it is usually more difficult for older adults, as UTI symptoms in the elderly are often less noticeable and even vastly different in the way they present.
UTI Symptoms in Elderly Individuals
In addition to the typical warning signs of a UTI, like those in the list above, seniors may also experience:
- Discolored urine
- Pressure in the pelvic area
- Pain during urination
- Confusion or delirium
- Withdrawal from social events
- Other behavioral changes
Left untreated, UTIs in older adults may cause extremely serious complications, such as damage to the kidneys, kidney disease or sepsis.
Senior UTI Risk Factors
Older adults are more prone to urinary tract infections if they have:
- Immune system changes
- Been in the hospital or in a care facility and exposed to various kinds of bacteria
- Been diagnosed with a UTI in the past
- A urinary catheter
- Specific health issues, such as incontinence
If You Suspect a UTI in a Senior…
Get in touch with his or her physician right away for a urine test to confirm the diagnosis. The kind of bacteria present will determine the most effective treatment solution, which might include one of several different antibiotics (given intravenously if the infection is severe) in addition to antipsychotic drugs to help with delirium and confusion.
But as the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The following steps can help the seniors in your life avoid a UTI:
- Drinking enough fluids daily, especially plain water. The recommendation for older adults is slightly over 7 cups of water each day.
- Refraining from consuming alcohol and caffeine.
- Ensuring underwear and/or incontinence pads are dry, and changing immediately if they become wet.
- Urinating right away when the urge arises (for continent seniors).
- Transportation to procedures, tests, and medical appointments
- Errand running and prescription pickups
- Preparing balanced meals and ensuring adequate hydration
- Helping with personal care needs, such as incontinence care and other hygiene requirements
- Companionship for enjoyable activities as well as to look out for and report any changes in condition
- And many more
Help an older adult you love stay healthy and thriving with some help from our care specialists! Give us a call at 515-292-2650 to request a no-cost in-home assessment and for more information on the many ways our in-home care services can help.