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Elderly and UTI's

By Edited Oct 2, 2016 2 5

     Within the next 25 years in the United States the elderly population will double, and people aged 65 will double in the world. In part this is due to the "baby boomer" generation. These are the people who were born between 1946 and 1964. As we age we also start developing health issues. For the elderly this could be troublesome. One of the main health issues for the elderly is developing UTI's (Urinary Tract Infections).

     Although certain people are more prone to urinary tract infections, the elderly tend to develop the infection more often than any other group. It isn't until symptoms start to develop and they end up in the emergency room, or in their doctor's office that it is found. Because most elderly don't realize they have a UTI, it often goes misdiagnosed.  Symptoms of a UTI include confusion and cognitive difficulties, similar to Alzheimer's and Dementia. So why are the elderly more at risk?

    As we age, the muscles of the bladder start to weaken. Urine is held in the bladder. This can cause bacteria to build up . When urinating, if the bladder does not empty all the way it can lead to a UTI.  In elderly men a UTI is often due to an enlarged prostate. An enlarge prostate can prevent the urine from releasing completely. Some urine is left. Bacteria then developes.  Another breeding ground for bacteria is adult diapers. Most elderly, as they grow older, wear diapers. If not changed on a regular basis urine sits stagnant and bacteria grows. How can a UTI be prevented?

     One of the ways to prevent a UTI is to drink a lot of water to help flush out the bacteria.  As we age we don't drink as much water as we should. Lack of flavor could attribute to this dilemma. Adding a flavor packet such as ice tea, lemon aide or even koolaide to water can help increase the  intake. Cranberry juice, or cranberry tablets can also decrease UTI's. For women wiping from front to back after urination can help prevent a UTI by not bringing the bacteria forward. How can you tell if you or a loved one have a potential UTI?

     Some other symptoms to look for if you suspect a UTI are, urine that appears cloudy,  pain in the lower back (kidney area), blood in the urine,  a foul smell upon urination, a temperature (although not always present) and pain and burning when urinating.

      If  you know an elderly person who starts exhibiting symptoms of confusion, or cognitive difficulties, have them checked for a Urinary Tract Infection. It might change the diagnosis of Alzheimer's or a UTI.




Jul 16, 2011 8:25pm
Great article, Janet. Thanks for sharing. When I worked with people who cared for people with Alzheimer's, the carers were always testing for UTIs as the condition caused the sufferer to be even more confused and distressed.
Jul 16, 2011 11:23pm
Thank you Judy. It is true, so many of our Seniors are being misdiagnose with Alzheimer/Dementia due to the UTI. We always alert family members to have their loved one checked first for the UTI.
Jul 22, 2011 11:19pm
Wow, excellent info.

I had no idea an urinary tract infection causes cognitive side effects. I'll be making an appointment for a family member on Monday. Thank you for writing this important article.
Jul 23, 2011 12:01am
Hi jp. I am so glad the article was helpful to you and your loved one. It's sad, but true, that so many families are not aware of what a UTI can cause.I'm glad you're getting your loved one checked :)
Aug 28, 2013 5:58am
Man UTIs can make people so crazy, it's really strange.
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