For adults over 60, urinary tract infections are the most common types of bacterial infections. This is because they tend to be more vulnerable to the condition. A UTI can cause serious health problems if unaddressed, and therefore it is important to catch them early. That means it is important to know how to identify urinary tract infections in your elderly loved ones.
What Causes Urinary Tract Infections?
Urinary tract infections are caused when bacteria enter the urinary tract. Women tend to be more vulnerable to UTIs. When bacteria enter the urinary tract, it may reach the bladder or kidneys, and this what causes an infection.
Certain things increase the chances of bacteria reaching the bladder. Blockages to the urinary tract, such as kidney stones, increase the build-up of bacteria, as does a weakened immune system. Having sex could also increase the likelihood of a UTI being contracted. Generally speaking, a lack of fluids and not keeping the genitals clean are the leading causes.
Symptoms of UTIs
To identify a urinary tract infection in an elderly loved one, you will need to know the symptoms to look out for. However, some may not be immediately obvious through observation. If your loved one is capable of effective communication, they may tell you about the symptoms they are experiencing. However, some loved ones may be non-verbal or not know how to communicate what they’re feeling.
The main symptoms of UTIs are:
- Burning pain when peeing
- Pelvic pain
- Odd-smelling urine
- Urinating more frequently
However, older adults may display other symptoms, especially as the infection progresses. These include:
- Decreased mobility
- Reduced appetite
- Agitation/bad moods
Finally, there may be more severe symptoms if the infection spreads to the kidneys.
- Back pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Flushed skin
Confusion Due to Urinary Tract Infections
You may have heard about UTIs causing confusion in older people. Most commonly, this confusion – known as delirium – will present in people living with dementia. However, it can affect other older adults, too.
Delirium often develops over a few days and will cause changes in your loved one’s behaviour. They may forget where they are, repeat themselves, or become aggressive. It may also be that they struggle to explain the symptoms they are experiencing. In some cases, the struggle to express their feelings may lead to further distress and confusion.
How to Identify a Urinary Tract Infection in Your Loved One
Naturally, you will not be able to experience the symptoms of your loved one. Therefore, you will not know whether they are experiencing pain when they pee.
However, you may be able to notice other signs. Aside from confusion, it is likely you will know if they are acting out of character. Perhaps your loved one is more tired than usual or isn’t eating as much as usual. Perhaps they appear uncomfortable, or you have noticed them going to the toilet more often.
Of course, one major method of identifying a UTI in your loved one is if they talk to you about some of their symptoms. They might tell you they are experiencing pain when peeing or that their urine smells strange. However, this could be a sensitive discussion.
Treating Your Loved One’s UTI
If you suspect that your loved one has a UTI, they will need to visit a doctor. This will allow them to be prescribed with antibiotics. For loved ones with mental capacity, you will need to convince them to make an appointment. The sooner an appointment is made, the sooner symptoms can be addressed.
If your loved one lacks mental capacity, such as if they have dementia, you may need to make this appointment on their behalf and accompany them. You will be asked what symptoms you have noticed, and your loved one’s doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics if they decide your loved one has a urinary tract infection.
In most cases, the antibiotics will address the infection. If this doesn’t happen, however, your loved one’s doctor will need to perform further tests.
Protecting Loved Ones with Personal Alarms
We all want to ensure our loved ones are in safe hands. If you cannot always be there to look out for their wellbeing, it is reassuring to know there is a system in place to support them. A personal alarm from Careline365 allows your loved one to call for help at the press of a button, should they need it.
If they feel unwell or have a fall, pressing the button sends an alert to our 24/7 Care Team. Our team will speak to your loved one through the loudspeaker in their alarm, assessing the situation. They will then inform assigned emergency contacts that help is needed. In appropriate circumstances, they will also alert the emergency services.
For additional peace of mind, your loved one can choose from our range of Careline365 alarms. A fall detector plan allows an alert to be sent in the event of a sudden fall; the GO GPS Alarm provides peace of mind wherever your loved one goes.