People of all ages can get a UTI or urinary tract infection. However, many elderly adults have a higher risk of getting this type of infection. If it is not treated right away, major problems can occur. If you are caring for an elderly loved one, it is important to make sure to recognize a UTI as soon as possible and get them the treatment they need.
Defining Urinary Tract Infections
UTIs are infections that involve at least one part of the urinary system including the urethra, kidneys, or bladder. The majority of UTIs begin in the bottom part of the urinary tract, affecting the bladder and/or urethra. However, these infections can spread throughout the kidneys and cause more serious issues. Women are more likely to get UTIs than men. However, this does not mean that men can’t get a UTI.
Urinary Tract Infection Causes
Bacteria is the cause of urinary tract infections. If your elderly loved one gets bacteria in their urethra and their immune system can’t fight the bacteria off, this can lead to the UTI. If not treated promptly, the infection will then spread to their kidneys.
If your elderly loved one has a catheter or wears incontinence underwear, they will have a higher risk of getting a UTI. In addition, lack of hygiene can lead to a higher risk of urinary tract infections, as well.
If your elderly loved one experiences regular UTIs, they will have a higher risk of kidney infections which can ultimately cause kidney failure over time.
Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms
There are some general symptoms that are associated with UTIs. If your elderly loved one experiences any of the following, they might have a urinary tract infection:
- Stomach and/or back pain
- Burning when they urinate
- Chills and/or fever
- Cloudy and/or dark urine
- Odd smell to their urine
- Urinating much more often than usual
If your elderly loved one has a urinary tract infection, they might also experience agitation, lethargy, incontinence, falls, decreased mobility, and decreased appetite.
Care Plan for Urinary Tract Infections
The first thing that is often added to a care plan for a UTI is a course of antibiotics. If your elderly loved one’s UTI hasn’t progressed, antibiotics should be enough to get rid of the infection in the course of a few days to a week. However, even if their symptoms go away after a few days, they should complete their entire antibiotic prescription.
If your elderly loved one gets UTIs often, their doctor might have them stay on low-dose antibiotics for a minimum of 6 months. In addition, with frequent UTIs, you might want someone with your elderly loved one throughout the week to watch out for the symptoms of a UTI. You can hire home health care providers to assist with this.
Making sure that your elderly loved one gets prompt treatment is the most important if they have a urinary tract infection.
Urinary tract infections can be annoying. However, they can also become serious quickly if they are not treated properly. If your elderly loved one has the symptoms of a UTI, be sure they get the medical attention they need.