How to prevent Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) in seniors

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) can affect anyone, but the elderly are particularly at risk. If you care for an elderly loved one, here’s what to look out for, and how to prevent them in the first place.

UTIs can be a serious health risk with a wide range of consequences, particularly in older people. Furthermore, they can be tricky to diagnose in seniors, as they often come with varied and inconsistent symptoms. The best approach, therefore, is to do everything possible to prevent them in the first place.

Remember that although women are more prone to UTIs throughout life, anyone can be affected, particularly in later years. The symptoms that are often clear and distinct in younger people are often much less pronounced in seniors, but here is what to look out for:

How to know if you have a UTI — know the warning signs

If your loved one has more than one of these symptoms, consult your doctor for a urine test. It is common to only experience a few of these symptoms, so don’t wait until every one is present before seeking help.

  • Cloudy, bloody or unusually foul-smelling urine
  • A frequent or urgent need to urinate
  • Pain during urination
  • Lower pelvis pain
  • Chills or a fever
  • The sudden onset of confusion or mental difficulties. If you notice a sharp change in behaviour, such as trouble feeding or dressing themselves, accompanied by any of the other symptoms, it could be a UTI.

How to prevent UTIs in older people

Even better than spotting a UTI early is preventing it in the first place. Take these steps to lower the risk of an infection:

  • Drink lots of water. Make sure your loved one drinks plenty of water throughout the day. This keeps the urinary system functioning well.
  • Drink cranberry juice or take cranberry supplements. If you don’t like the taste, you can blend the juice with water or another drink, such as apple juice.
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol — both of these can aggravate the bladder.
  • Urinate regularly and avoid holding it in.
  • Minimise catheter use, and develop a regular thorough cleaning schedule if you can’t

Keep the genital area clean. Some people find this uncomfortable to discuss, but it’s very important to have a clear and open conversation about keeping clean.

  • Adult diapers should be changed at least every two hours, and the genital area must be wiped and cleansed after every bowel movement.
  • Do not use douches
  • For women, always wipe from front to back, never letting a tissue or cloth that has wiped the anus touch the urethra
  • If possible, take showers rather than baths. A shower seat or chair can help make this possible (just make sure the seat is regularly cleaned).

What do to if you or your loved one has a UTI

Consult your doctor. UTIs are typically treated with antibiotics, and the doctor will be able to diagnose the condition with a simple urine test. Ensure you follow the full course of antibiotics as recommended by the doctor. If the infection recurs multiple times, preventative antibiotics might be prescribed, but follow advice on this.

Another way to keep on top of threats like thiss is to get a little extra help caring for your loved ones. Regular checks and consistent contact is the key to staving off potential health threats, and in-home help can make a huge difference to both preventing illness and spotting warning signs early. If you’d like to talk about arranging some regular care, at whatever level of frequency and depth you and your loved one need, get in touch with us at Home Instead Camden.