Urinary tract infections. They’re surprisingly easy to get, and they can have surprisingly profound effects on the body.
Thankfully, they can be just as easy enough to prevent, as we’ll discuss in a bit.
What are UTIs, and how do they affect the elderly?
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) occur when bacteria gain a foothold somewhere in the urinary tract, which consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. The most likely culprit is Escherichia coli (E. coli), but a number of other bacteria can also cause a UTI.
The bacteria, having gained entrance to the urinary tract, overcome the body’s defenses and multiply — and a UTI is born.
Especially in the elderly, urinary tract infections can cause a number of problems, from painful urination and low-grade fever all the way up to kidney failure.
UTIs also can cause dizziness, confusion, falling and even hallucinations in the elderly; these symptoms often cause a UTI to be mistaken for the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, a UTI is usually one of the first things a doctor tests for in elderly patients who seem confused or disoriented.
How to prevent a UTI
The simplest and most effective way to prevent infections of the urinary tract is to drink lots of water. Especially during the summer, when it’s easier to become dehydrated, it’s important to drink water often — from a half-gallon to a gallon a day, unless a doctor says otherwise.
It can also be helpful to have the services of an at-home nursing assistant, someone who can look out for some of the symptoms of a UTI and get help before the infection worsens. An assistant in the home, such as a licensed caregiver from Take My Hand At-Home Care, can notice the signs of a UTI and get in touch with a doctor for a checkup.
Remember: Stay hydrated!
This summer, as temperatures heat up, it’s especially important that the elderly drink plenty of water. It’s good for the body and one of the most sure-fire ways to prevent a urinary tract infection.
if you can’t be around to check on elderly loved ones, consider hiring a licensed caregiver. With Take My Hand At-Home Care, family and friends of the elderly in Whatcom County can be confident that their loved ones are getting the best at-home care possible.