Itching. Burning. Urgency. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of suffering from a urinary tract infection (UTI), you recognize these symptoms all too well. For younger individuals, a UTI may be simple enough to detect and take care of. But it is usually more challenging for older adults, as symptoms can be less apparent or even significantly different in how they present.
Signs of a Urinary Tract Infection in Seniors
On top of the typical warning signs of a urinary tract infection, like those listed above, seniors might also experience:
- Pain or irritation when urinating
- Pressure in the pelvic area
- Discolored urine
- Confusion or delirium
- Withdrawal from social events
- Other behavioral changes
If not treated, UTIs in seniors may lead to serious complications, such as kidney damage, disease or sepsis.
Risk Factors for UTI in Seniors
Older adults tend to be more vulnerable to urinary tract infections if they have:
- Compromised immune systems
- Been put in the hospital or in a care facility and in contact with different types of bacteria
- Previously had a UTI
- A urinary catheter
- Certain health issues, such as incontinence
If You Suspect a UTI in a Senior…
Contact the senior’s doctor immediately for a urine test to verify the diagnosis. The type of bacteria present will determine the most effective treatment solution, which may include one of several different antibiotics (given intravenously in the event that 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 measures can help the older adults you love avoid a UTI:
- Drinking plenty of fluid throughout each day, especially plain water. The recommendation for seniors is a little over 7 cups of water per day.
- Avoiding alcohol and caffeine.
- Making sure underwear and/or incontinence pads are dry, and changing immediately when they become wet.
- Urinating right away when the need arises (for continent seniors).
- Transportation to medical appointments, tests, and procedures
- Picking up prescriptions and running other errands
- Preparing nutritious meals and ensuring adequate hydration
- Assisting with personal care needs, such as incontinence care and other hygiene needs
- Companionship for enjoyable activities as well as to watch out for and report any alterations in condition
- And much more