Here’s to Your Health
UTIs are the most common type of bacterial infection in adults over age 65-especially in women. “UTIs are a common problem seen in most medical practices, especially in older patients,” said Gerald Oldham, MD, a geriatric medicine physician with Banner Health Center in Peoria, Ariz. “They seldom occur between ages 15-50, are more common in women and can be a severe issue in dementia patients.”
Why Do Seniors Get UTIs? Older adults are more vulnerable to UTIs, because as we age, we tend to have weaker muscles in our bladder and pelvic floor that can cause urine retention or incontinence. Whenever the urine stays in the urinary tract, there’s a potential for bacteria, such as E. coli, to multiply and cause an infection to spread. Other factors that increase the risk of UTIs in seniors are a weakened immune system, the use of catheters to empty the bladder, diabetes and kidney problems.
What Are the Symptoms? The common, symptoms of a UT include burning while urinating, frequent or urgent need to urinate, a feeling the bladder is not completely empty, and lower abdominal or pelvic pain. More severe symptoms of a complicated UTI include: Fever, worsening abdominal pain, chills, fatigue, and nausea and/or vomiting.
Why are Dementia Patients at Greater Risk? In older age, symptoms of UTIs may not be so evident, especially for those who have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Rather than showing pain symptoms, they may start to act more erratically. “Oftentimes dementia patients can’t tell us they have UTI symptoms, but if left untreated their symptoms can escalate quickly, causing confusion and a state of delirium,” Dr. Oldham said. “It’s important to watch for worsening symptoms of confusion and disorientation.” If you suspect a loved one has a UTI, it’s best to have them checked by their doctor, so the doctor can rule out other possible infections or begin treatment for a UTI.
Is There Anything I Can Do to Prevent UTIs? Antibiotics can help treat UTIs, but there are precautions you can take to help to prevent them altogether:
- Drink plenty of water and fluids.
- Empty the bladder frequently and as soon as there is a need.
- Wipe front to back.
- Wear loose, breathable clothes.
If you would like to learn the importance of having trained, knowledgeable Caregivers to support a loved one with dementia or striving to manage a chronic condition, please contact one of our friendly and resourceful Amada Senior Care advisors by visiting www.AmadaBirmingham.com or calling 205-208-9466.