Urinary Tract Infections Common Among Seniors

It is very difficult as a caregiver to see your loved one struggle with re-occurring urinary tract infections (UTI). Urinary tract infections often present varied symptoms among the different age groups.  For the senior population, an untreated UTI can be very dangerous.

Why Seniors?

Both senior men and women are both susceptible to UTI infections. 12% percent of men have experienced a UTI in their lifetime versus 40% for women.  UTIs are caused by bacteria that enter the urethra and travels through the urinary system.  Senior women are especially targeted for UTIs because of their physiology.  On average, one third of all women have a re-occurring urinary tract infection.

Symptoms and Signs of a Urinary Tract Infection

The symptoms of a chronic UTI can often mimic the early signs of dementia. One of the first signs of a UTI is a change in the mental status of your loved one.  This may include confusion, irritability, and restlessness.  My mother resides in an assisted living facility.  However, during her two -year tenure, I have received two calls that her hallucinations and delirium were a result of a raging UTI.  Other common symptoms may include a change with balance, gait, and motor skills.  A senior that has a urinary tract infection may also exhibit some physical signs.  These common signs include:

~Cloudy, pungent odor or painful urination
~Fever
~Frequent urgency
~Blood in the urine
~Pelvic pressure

What to do if you suspect a UTI?

Take a proactive approach when you first suspect a UTI.   WebMD recommends drinking lots of water during the first 24 hours after your symptoms appear.  It isn’t a wives tale that cranberry juice may be able to prevent a UTI.  A few studies have shown that drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry tablets may reduce UTIs, especially for women who are prone to re-occurrences.    Reducing the use of caffeine and alcohol may also reduce the risk of a urinary tract infection. Finally, it is important to urinate frequently and completely empty the bladder.

If you feel like your loved one has a urinary tract infection, contact the physician.  Most physicians will require a urine sample.  Because my mother has frequent UTIs, her primary care physician writes a standing prescription to keep in the assisted living clinic.  I have also encouraged my mom to drink plenty of fluids and to take a cranberry tablet every day.

UTIs are nothing to mess with among our senior population.  Not only do they decrease the quality of life, but an untreated UTI can lead to acute kidney infections or a life threatening blood stream infection.

Sources: WebMD

 
 
 

About the author

I am passionate about sharing senior citizen news and resources discovered from both my profession and personal journey.

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