At a young age symptoms are clear when a urinary tract infection (UTI) is present. This isn’t the case for seniors, elderly UTIs usually don’t have clear symptoms or pain. As aging takes place our immune system responses change, which is a normal part of growing older.
What are the Warning Signs
One of the biggest warning signs in seniors for a UTI is a sudden change in behavior. Other common signs include:
- Onset of senior incontinence
- Unable to carry out tasks that they could easily do before
If major changes, such as not being able to dress or feed themselves occur a red flag should go up in a caregivers mind.
Are UTIs Common
UTI’s are the second most common infection in the human body. Half of all women will get this infection during their lifespan. This common infection makes up for 8.3 million doctor visits a year. Overall, UTIs are easy to cure, but if they’re left untreated the infection can turn into something more serious. For example, sepsis is a potentially life-threatening infection in the bloodstream that can be caused by an untreated UTI.
If the infection spreads it can move to the bladder causing stress on the body. These symptoms caused by stress can include:
- Abrupt changes in behavior
- Causing symptoms of dementia to temporarily worsen
Any kind of stress, such as physical or emotional, will often make dementia temporarily worse.
What are the Causes and Symptoms
The Urinary systems all works together with the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra to remove urine from the body. The system operates by the kidneys removing waste from the blood in the form of urine, the ureters carry the urine from the kidneys to the bladder, and the bladder stores the urine until it is removed through the urethra.
The occurrence of UTI begins when bacteria clings to the opening of the urethra and begins to multiply. Woman’s urethra is much shorter than a man’s, so bacteria from the rectal area have an easier route into the body. This explanation provides reasoning for UTI’s being more common in women.
Cystitis is the medical term for inflammation of the bladder. Most of the time, the inflammation is caused by a bacterial infection, otherwise known as a UTI. A bladder infection can be painful and annoying, and it can become a serious health problem if the infection spreads to your kidneys.
Cystitis signs and symptoms often include:
- A strong, persistent urge to urinate
- A burning sensation when urinating
- Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
- Blood in the urine
- Passing cloudy or strong-smelling urine
- Pelvic discomfort
- A feeling of pressure in the lower abdomen
- Low-grade fever
Urethritis and Pyelonephritis
Urethritis: Inflammation of the urethra. That’s the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body. Pain with urination is the main symptom of urethritis.
Pyelonephritis: Inflammation of the kidney, typically due to a bacterial infection. Symptoms most often include fever and flank tenderness. Other symptoms may include nausea, burning with urination, and frequent urination.
If a senior begins to have back or side pain it can mean the infection has reached the kidneys. If a fever is one of the symptoms it should be considered an emergency. A fever means a serious infection and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
How to Reduce the Risk of UTIs
UTI’s can lead to a serious infection, so it’s best that we take the steps to prevent it from happening.
These steps can include:
- Stay Hydrated: This will keep the kidneys and bladder healthy and help prevent infection. Try to drink 8–10 glasses of fluid a day.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet: It is important to eat a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables and fibre to avoid constipation. Try to build some exercise into your daily routine.
Avoid constipation: Bowel habits tend to vary between individuals. A healthy person may go as often as two or three times a day, or as little as three times a week. What is important is that it’s regular. If you need to strain, your stool is painful to pass, or your bowel habits change and become very loose, see your community pharmacist. If this persists, please see your GP
The Victorian Assisted Living and Retirement Community
The Victorian is an assisted living and retirement community that makes living independently, while at the same time feeling safe and secure, a reality. We strive to provide the best quality of life for all residents including those suffering from loneliness and depression.
We offer a comprehensive activity program that includes both physical and social activities to encourage emotional well-being. Our staff is trained to assist those with depression. If you or a loved one are considering assisted living, contact The Victorian today to learn more about our services or tour our community.