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.