Developing a urinary tract infection (UTI’s) becomes an increasingly dangerous issue as we age, especially if left untreated. In the elderly population, detecting UTIs can be tricky, as some of the symptoms mimic natural decline in aging, or may be symptoms of a comorbidity such as with Alzheimer’s. Learning how to spot the symptoms and how to prevent infections can greatly increase the quality of life for seniors, and can possibly save a life.
UTI’s begin when bacteria enters your urinary tract.
There are many different ways to allow bacteria into the body, and there are many factors that can contribute to contracting a UTI. The following issues have been identified as the most common factors that make the elderly population more vulnerable than most:
- Being unable to fully empty your bladder during urination means that the urine left behind can become stagnant, creating a breeding ground for bacteria. Men with enlarged prostates can also find it difficult to empty their bladders. Certain medical conditions can make it easier to develop a UTI such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. These conditions can cause what’s known as “neurogenic bladder”. A disruption of communication between the brain and the bladder causing urinary retention.
- Incontinence can cause UTI’s to develop. Prolonged use of pads and briefs can also breed bad bacteria if they aren’t changed often.
Symptoms of a UTI can include:
- Feeling the need to urinate more frequently
- A feeling of urgency when needing to urinate
- A burning sensation when you need to go
- A general feeling of unease and pelvic discomfort
In seniors, diagnosing a UTI can be difficult as some symptoms manifest differently in the aging population. Seniors can experience an acute change in behavior, such as confusion, hallucinations, increased falls and agitation. Detecting these behavioral changes can mean all the difference in early detection. Left untreated, a UTI can cause kidney damage, and if the infection enters the bloodstream, it can be fatal.
If a UTI is suspected in an aging loved one, please visit a primary care physician or an emergency room if necessary.
If antibiotics are prescribed, the entire course will need to be finished for optimum recovery and prevention of reinfection. It can take some time, up to a week, to start feeling better.
Looking for help to keep your loved one at home? My Choice Home Care is a senior care service that serves clients in Macon, Jackson, and Haywood Counties in North Carolina. Counties served in Georgia are Rabun, Towns, and Habersham. Counties served in Upstate South Carolina are Oconee, Pickens, and Anderson. Call (828) 200-9000 to speak to someone today or contact us if you or a loved one would like to enjoy the benefits of living independently.