What are Special Cautions for Treating UTIs in Elderly Persons?

When it comes to treating a urinary tract infection in elderly people, you may be surprised to find that the main difficulties don’t always come with sensitivity to medications. Rather, lifestyle habits and the capacity to perform certain tasks can make it virtually impossible to prevent a recurring UTI.  That said, if you are an elderly person, or a caregiver, you can keep a few common issues in mind, and then look for ways to resolve them.

Incontinence and Mobility

According to the National Institute of Health, holding urine in can create a nutrient rich environment for bacteria to grow. Unfortunately, as elderly people find it harder to move around, they also tend to hold in urine more often.  This, in conjunction with a tendency towards incontinence can create a situation where antibiotics will fail to treat a urinary tract infection in elderly people.  It is also important to note that wearing adult under garments may not be of much help, since bacteria from the infection will still be in close proximity to the skin.

Finding Out About Active Infections

As people get older, it may become harder to alert caregivers to the fact that a UTI may be developing.  In fact, according to a study conducted by Martha-Sund Levant RNT, in Scandinavia, caregivers must be active in looking for signs of infections in elderly people. In this particular study, 21 nurse assistants were specifically asked to increase monitoring for signs of infections in elderly patients.  They concluded that not waiting for elderly patients to report symptoms resulted in a significantly reduced time between onset of symptoms and treatment.  Since bladder infections can move rapidly up the ureters and into the kidneys, even a few days can be critical to an elderly person.  This is especially important to consider if the patient is diabetic, or has other health problems that increase the risk of kidney damage.

Even if you are not currently taking care of an elderly person, or have no elderly family members living nursing homes, it is very important to be aware of the impact of UTIs on an aging body.   For example, even though you may not hesitate to discuss UTI symptoms with your doctor now, that may change as you get older.   Perhaps it can best be said that as people age and begin to experience incontinence or other problems, avoiding doctors becomes more common place.  At the very least, you can give these matters some though, as well as be aware of the risks associated with UTIs on elderly people. As an added bonus, once you know more about the impact of reduced mobility, it will become much easier to manage a urinary tract infection in elderly people.

National Institute of Health