Urinary tract infections in seniors can be very serious. Unlike younger people who just experience discomfort and inconvenience, UTIs in seniors can lead to serious health complications, such as altered states of consciousness, falls, and urosepsis, a serious infection.
Preventing UTIs in seniors is the best defense against potentially serious consequences. Doug Higgins, Assisted Living Manager and RN at Friendship Manor has tips for how to prevent UTIs in seniors.
Drink plenty of water
Staying hydrated is the single best defense against getting a UTI. Water is best, but persons prone to UTIs can also drink cranberry juice regularly, as it acidifies urine and fights bacteria.
“Most of us do not drink as much fluids as we should,” Higgins said. “Seniors should make sure they have ongoing and frequent replacement of fluids.”
Practice good hygiene
Scrupulous personal hygiene will help prevent most infections, but sometimes attempts to get clean can cause more harm than good. For example, using baby wipes for convenience can actually leave residue behind that can cause an infection. Also baths should be followed by a thorough rinse to remove soap residue and bacteria that may be in the water.
If you don’t have a hand held shower attachment, a spray bottle filled with water can be used to rinse off.
Wear loose fitting clothing
Cotton, loose fitting underpants are best for preventing UTIs. The material will let the area breathe and reduce the accumulation of bacteria.
Recognize symptoms early
If seniors do develop a urinary tract infection, early treatment will help prevent some of the serious complications that can develop. Early symptoms include a sense of urgency to urinate, going more often, and burning. Occasionally seniors will also experience fatigue and a low grade temperature when they have a urinary tract infection.
“The earlier you catch it, you can minimize the length of the disconcerting effects,” Higgins said. “Seniors’ immune systems are not nearly as robust as a young person’s and it can lead to very serious consequences.”
Friendship Manor provides skilled nursing care for its residents. Click here to learn more.