UTI – urinary tract infections are a common occurrence in the elderly group. Furthermore, women are more likely to suffer from urinary infection than men. Our immune system undergoes changes and weakens as we age. A weakened immune system is one of the causes of frequent urinary tract infection.
Urinary tract infections in our elderly are not easy to deal with. Medical experts say that any kind of infections, more so UTIs, are a common cause of stress for the body. Such a form of stress can become a potent cause for confusion. And sudden changes in the behavior of our elderly loved ones. As a result, the health of our loved ones suffering from any other form of dementia can worsen.
Understanding Urinary tract infections
According to the National Center for Health Statistics. It is the body’s second most common type of infection. This means that almost all women above the age of 50 years are at an increased risk. Of suffering from at least one bout of the infection in their lifetime. It is also referred to as bladder infections. When treated quickly, they usually do not take a nasty turn and are pretty easy to cure. However, failure to do can cause the infection to spread and affect other body organs. One such common complication of it is sepsis. Which is potentially a life threatening condition.
The kidneys along with urethra, urinary bladder and ureters work in conjugation. To remove waste from the body in the form of urine. A UTI results when bacteria thrive in the opening of the urethra and multiply. Women are more prone to develop UTI owing to their shorter urethra than men.
The major cause of bacteria is Escherichia coli. In addition, other bacteria, such as Staphylococci and Enterococci can cause UTI. Another key point, UTI’s happen in older adults using catheters or by staying in a nursing home.
The other risk factors include the following:
Long-term use of catheter
Previous history of UTI
A prolapsed bladder
Estrogen deficiency in post menopausal women
Symptoms of UTI
In elderly often mimic the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Due to this, an infection of the urinary tract is often misunderstood to be the onset of dementia. The classic symptom is a burning sensation while urinating along with high fever. However, this does not always happen with older adults suffering from the infection. Since the poor immune system does not show any response to the presence of infection. The bacteria that are responsible for UTI. Gradually crosses the blood brain barrier. Causing confusion, dementia, and other cognitive problems. A sudden onset of confusion or dementia in older adults is a matter of concern. And should call for immediate diagnosis. When your loved one shows signs of the sudden onset of dementia.
Other signs of UTI such as:
Blood in the urine
Urine may appear cloudy
Pain while urination
Urine has a strong odor or smells foul
Pressure in the lower pelvis region
Ways to help the elderly deal with UTI
When our loved one suffers from UTI, antibiotics are the first line of treatment. Our loved ones should rest at home and advised to drink plenty of water along with medications. However, if the infection is not diagnosed and treated in time. The hospital admission and intravenous administration of antibiotics may be necessary. When diagnosed with a UTI, it is necessary to give them cranberry juice. Several research trials have confirmed that drinking cranberry juice helps in treating UTI. Therefore, along with medications and ample rest. Cranberry juice is also extremely important in treating the infection.
Prevention of UTI in elderly
Prevention is always better than cure. And this is particularly true for our loved one. Contacting UTI during old age can call for several complications. Provided, the condition is not diagnosed on time. Preventing UTI is extremely important and here are the several ways of doing it:
Urinary catheters. Minimizing the use of urinary catheters is one of the best preventive strategies. This is because urinary catheters are one of the biggest causes of the onset of UTI.
Alcohol and caffeinated beverages. Do not allow your elderly to drink alcohol and caffeinated beverages. These tend to irritate the bladder lining, paving way for UTI.
Douches. It is also necessary to stay away from douches, and also products of a similar kind.
Water intake. Encourage your elderly loved one to increase their water intake. This allows your kidneys to flush away the bacteria from the body; thus preventing the onset of UTI.
Cranberry juice. Drinking cranberry juice help prevents the development of UTI. However, you can only use cranberry juice, if you do not have kidney stones.
Maintain hygiene. Urinary tract infection spreads from the bacteria thriving in the genital area. Therefore, elderly women and men should keep their genital area clean. And regularly change their adult diapers. Elderly women should also thoroughly wipe themselves from front to back. To prevent bacteria entering the rectal region.
Being diagnosed with UTI during old age is certainly not a pleasant experience. Helping our elderly loved one deal with the condition is the best thing we can do to help them. All the above-mentioned tips can help prevent the onset of UTI. And save our elderly from the harassment the disease brings along.