Owners' Blog

Could Your Aging Loved One Have a Urinary Tract Infection

By Greg and Hilary Eldridge

Elder Care Suwanee GA

The urinary tract is the bodily system made up of the bladder, the kidneys, and the tubes that connect them. This system is responsible for making urine and carrying it out of your body. A urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria gets into the bladder or kidneys. Elderly people are more susceptible to urinary tract infections. When providing elder care, how can you tell if your loved one has a urinary tract infection?

Many people don’t take a urinary tract infection serious but they can cause major health problems. If left untreated, a urinary tract infection (UTI) can lead to acute or chronic kidney infections possibly resulting in permanently damaged kidneys and even kidney failure. They are the leading cause of sepsis which is a potentially life-threatening infection of the bloodstream.

Typical signs and symptoms of a urinary tract infection are:

  • Strong or foul smelling urine
  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • Bloody urine
  • Cloudy urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Pressure in the lower pelvis
  • Night sweats, shaking, or chills
  • Low-grade fever

Home care for the elderly should be aware that they may not show any of the common symptoms because their immune system is unable to respond to an infection due to the effects of aging. Therefore, they don’t usually experience pain, a fever, or other typical symptoms. In fact UTIs in the elderly are often mistaken for early Alzheimer’s and dementia because symptoms present as the following:

  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Poor motor skills
  • Falling

Certain health conditions make an elder more susceptible to UTIs:

  • Urinary retention
  • Bowel incontinence
  • Diabetes
  • Use of a urinary catheter
  • Surgery of an area near the bladder
  • Immobility
  • Kidney stones

Seniors with incontinence issues are at a higher risk for UTIs. Bacteria can be easily reintroduced back into the bladder due to the close contact that the adult briefs have with the skin.

Ways that elderly home care can reduce the risk of urinary tract infections are:

  • Make sure that they drink plenty of fluids (2 to 4 quarts everyday)
  • Drink cranberry juice or take cranberry tablets except if there is a history of kidney stones
  • Wipe from front to back
  • Wear cotton underwear
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they irritate the bladder
  • Change adult briefs frequently

When providing elder care, if you think your loved one may have a urinary tract infection, make an appointment to get to the doctor as soon as possible.

If you or an aging loved one are looking for senior care in the home, contact the caring staff at Home Helpers of Alpharetta. Call today (678) 430-8511