This condition is one of those that can hit almost anyone. But older adults, more than any other age group, have severe issues with the urinary tract. As is the case with many other diseases, if left untreated, this one can be considered quite hazardous. Because of this, it is essential to recognize urinary tract infections in seniors quickly and deal with it immediately. If this is not done, their health can be put in jeopardy.
What Is a Urinary Tract Infection?
A urinary tract infection, or simply UTI, is an infection of either the bladder, kidneys, urethra, or all of them together. In most cases, the issue starts in the lower urinary tract and then moves onto the urethra and bladder. If it spreads to the kidneys, it can become a serious medical condition. If you didn’t know, women are more prone to developing urinary tract infections than their male counterparts.
Causes of Urinary Tract Infections
The cause behind UTIs is the same for all age groups. In most cases, urinary tract infections start with bacteria. Bacteria can enter your body through the urethra, and if your immune system is not quick to fend it off, it can quickly reach both your bladder and kidneys.
Seniors who live in an assisted living facility or have dementia are more prone to developing UTIs. This is because elderly adults who share space with other elderly people can easily get in touch with this bacteria, while those that have dementia could fall victim to it because hygiene was neglected due to their condition. Furthermore, people who wear incontinence briefs or use catheters have a higher risk of encountering bacteria that cause urinary tract infections. However, people who live alone and don’t have dementia are also at risk of UTIs if they neglect personal hygiene.
If left untreated, this condition can be very persistent and lead to many complications. Another serious condition that can happen to people who suffer from a urinary tract infection for prolonged periods of time is kidney infections, which can cause kidney failure.
Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections
The urinary tract infection symptoms are divided into two groups: the typical signs and symptoms for older adults.
The first group consists of:
- Back and stomach pain
- A burning sensation which appears when you urinate
- Chills and fever
- Different color of urine, usually dark or cloudy
- Strange urine odor
- The need to urinate intensified
As far as the elderly are concerned, they can also encounter symptoms such as lethargy, agitation, falling, incontinence, decreased appetite, and decreased mobility.
Urinary Tract Infection Care Plan
The fight against urinary tract infections starts with antibiotics. If your infection is in the early stages, antibiotics should do the trick. The treatment lasts typically for only a few days. It is essential that you take the entire dose of medicines prescribed by the doctor.
If your infection lasts for some time or if it’s reoccurring, then you might need to take antibiotics regularly for a period between four and six months. For women who are postmenopausal, the recommended cure is vaginal estrogen. In all cases related to a urinary tract infection, it is essential that you don’t sit still but address your medical situation immediately.
If you react quickly, you are going to reduce the chances of having this issue repeatedly as the years go by. If your loved one can’t take care of themselves, it is up to you to make sure their hygiene is up to par so that the chances of a UTI are reduced. The emphasis should be put on cleanliness in all cases but especially if patients have dementia.
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