It’s common for seniors to get a urinary tract infection, UTI, in their lifetime. The risk for one increases the more frail a person becomes, which can lead to delirium, hospitalization, and death.
Facts About UTI’s Seniors Should Know
Tips for seniors to become more aware of UTI’s:
Don’t Get Mixed Signals
Confusion is a common symptom of UTI’s, but don’t always assume that it’s always caused by a UTI. Aging can increase the incidence of confusion and delirium, especially those with impaired cognition or depression. One of the most common factors of delirium is dehydration, this can be avoided by having 8 glasses of water daily.
Try to Avoid Antibiotics
Increased levels of bacteria in the urine isn’t always an issue, often times it can be corrected by increasing fluid intake. If you have no confirmed UTI, even if you have symptoms try to only take antibiotics if necessary. In a world with increasing significant multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacteria, antibiotics aren’t needed without culture positive results. Part of the increase in MDR organisms is the overuse of antibiotics for urinary symptoms that feel like a classic UTI but are not truly infectious in nature.
In addition, there are healthy bacteria in your bladder that you don’t want to kill if you can avoid it. Encourage patients to avoid antibiotic usage as much as possible because patients who are given multiple antibiotic courses for culture negative standard tests are destroying their own natural biomes and are having more difficulty establishing equilibrium bladder state.
Doctors should not treat urinary bacteria with antibiotics unless there are multiple other signs or symptoms of a UTI. This can encourage antibiotic resistance and make future UTIs harder to treat.
Check for Other Symptoms
A UTI shouldn’t be diagnosed by only one symptom, but a multitude. Be aware that other symptoms can include:
- A burning feeling when you pee
- A frequent or intense urge to pee, even though little comes out when you do
- Cloudy, dark, bloody, or strange-smelling pee
- Feeling tired or shaky
- Fever or chills
- Pain or pressure in your back or lower abdomen
Having two or more of these symptoms, along with a positive UTI culture, will confirm a UTI.
Other Complications than a UTI
Some STIs like gonorrhea and chlamydia cause symptoms like frequent urination and bladder pain that can be confused with a UTI. You should be able to rule these out or in pretty easily by getting an RNA-based test.
Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic bladder condition that mimics many of the symptoms of UTIs — bladder and/or urethra irritation, frequent urination, and a constant feeling like you have to pee — but it may not be caused by an infection. It’s unknown what causes it, and the causes are different for different patients. Some have visible damage to the bladder lining that appears to be causing the discomfort, but others don’t.
How Seniors Can Avoid UTI’s
Most people think that cranberry juice or probiotics will help against a UTI, but there isn’t sufficient enough evidence to prove this. Although, there are certain methods that are proven to be tried-and-true prevention strategies:
- Encourage sufficient fluid intake
- Promote genital and urinary hygiene
- Ask the doctor about low-dose vaginal cream for postmenopausal women (to rejuvenate the vaginal skin and support the presence of good bacteria)
Following these tips should help seniors stay healthy, productive and out of the hospital.
Fairmont Grand Senior Living Community
Fairmont Grand is a resident centered senior living and memory care facility in Rapid City, SD. Our goal is to create an environment where resident well-being is at the heart of everything we do.
Our wide range of services are designed to meet you or your loved one’s daily needs. We offer restaurant style dining options, a variety of physical activities, and give residents the opportunity to live as independently as possible.