Urinary tract infection is a common problem for women throughout their lives but with age, the usual symptoms of pain, burning, a sense of urgency or fever may no longer be present.
The common warning signs in older adults prone to UTIs include a sudden change in behaviour or the abrupt onset of confusion, agitation or incontinence. Caregivers should be on the lookout for any unusual alteration in daily function or behaviour. Infection places stress on the body and in elderly adults, can result in unexplained disorientation or not being able to perform tasks they could just a few days before.
Urinary tract and bladder infections are the second most common type of infection and can present a danger of kidney involvement and sepsis when not treated quickly. Elderly patients who are catheterized have a greater risk of infection. According to the Kidney Foundation of Canada, post menopausal women may also be at greater risk for infection due to a change in hormone levels. Older patients who cannot fully empty their bladder may also be more likely to develop a UTI.
Most often, UTIs will be treated with antibiotics following a positive urine culture.
- Drink plenty of water to flush out bacteria
- Cranberry juice may be beneficial but check first for drug interactions
- Always wipe from front to back
- Avoid scented washes, bubble bath or sprays
- Do not hold urine, void as needed
- Void after sex to wash out any bacteria
- Cut back on caffeine and alcohol