Did you know that a simple urinary tract infection, or “UTI”, may cause confusion in seniors? When you think about UTIs and seniors, it’s almost better to reconsider much of what you know about a typical UTI, because there can be many differences in how they present. From terse words and falls to a 180-degree mood change, for seniors, UTIs can create some alarming surprises. If you suspect a UTI in your aging loved one, it’s very important to seek medical advice quickly.
For adults, well-known symptoms like running into the bathroom constantly and not being able to go very much might be the cue that a UTI is on the horizon. For aging adults, however, a UTI can be a bit more complicated. UTIs in seniors may present with those symptoms, but they could also bring out aggressiveness, words you’ve never expected to hear from your loved one, falls, or signs and symptoms that cause you to think the worst, “Is it dementia?” If given the chance, we would all much rather have a UTI going on instead of a memory loss diagnosis!
Let’s review what UTIs are, how they present differently throughout age, and better yet, how they can be prevented!
What is a UTI?
Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are infections of the urinary system involving the bladder, kidneys, ureter, or urethra. UTIs are usually caused by bacteria.
Symptoms of UTI in seniors:
Typical symptoms of UTI in adults:
What you’ll notice about the list of symptoms is that they’re different. While falling doesn’t seem far-fetched from all the trips to the bathroom, it’s typically an uncommon symptom in younger generations.
When UTIs strike, our senior loved ones may not act like themselves. It’s important to advocate on their behalf if they are unable to tell us what’s wrong. If you suspect a UTI in your aging loved one, reach out to their healthcare professional for help to develop an appropriate plan of care as soon as possible. If you know that they have had a history of UTIs, or if they’re at risk, it’s very important to share that information with their healthcare staff, and any caregivers who help them. Reporting some of the common behaviors or indicators your loved one may present at the start of a UTI can be crucial for them to receive early interventions like diagnosis and treatment.
Early treatment of a UTI may prevent the risk of complications, such as a worsening infection, an infection that spreads to the kidneys, kidney damage, or sepsis (which can lead to significant complications including death).
Practice good hygiene by thorough hand washing, showering, cleaning up after toileting, and wearing clean clothing. If you have to use the restroom, go. Try to avoid waiting long periods to let your bladder sit full. Drink plenty of fluids. Try to remain active through exercise. Limit alcohol and caffeine, and avoid smoking. Try to eat a diet that helps you avoid constipation, and drink plenty of water. While drinking eight glasses of liquids per day is helpful, paying attention to the color of your urine so that it’s clear may also be effective in gauging your hydration needs.
If your loved one needs reminders to drink water or use the restroom, or requires assistance with personal care, it’s important to help them find support options at home that can meet their needs. Without support, UTIs may continue frequently, or worse yet, they could go undetected or untreated, which can lead to serious health complications. Home Care Companions can be that extra set of eyes on your loved one to detect health issues like UTIs
At Home Care Companions, our teams work diligently in helping care for your loved ones as they age. By providing extra support wherever they need it most, we can help those struggling regain independence, identify signs that they may be having difficulties, or give your loved ones a sense of purpose again. To learn more about our variety of services or to find support, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.