Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are extremely common, accounting for more than 8 million doctor visits every year. Women of all ages are prone to them, but elderly men (about one in ten over age 80), and individuals with limited mobility, suppressed immune systems, or blockages in the urinary tract due to enlarged prostate or kidney stones are also at high risk. These infections are easily cured with antibiotics, but untreated UTIs can lead to such serious conditions as kidney infection or sepsis. And older adults often don’t exhibit classic—or even any—symptoms, so caregivers must be vigilant.
Classic UTI symptoms include cloudy, bloody, or strong-smelling urine, a frequent or urgent need to urinate, pain or burning with urination, low-grade fever, night sweats, and cramping or pressure in the lower abdomen.
The single best sign of a UTI in the elderly is often a sudden behavioral change.
Seniors may display none of those common symptoms because of their aging immune systems. Be on the lookout for any abrupt changes in behavior, such as loss of energy or appetite, or the inability to get dressed. Also, watch for:
The single best sign of a UTI in the elderly is often a sudden behavioral change. Knowing your loved one’s habits can be the first line of defense.
Some simple steps to help prevent UTIs include:
Avoiding UTIs altogether is, of course, the best-case scenario. But knowing that they can show up in seniors without any hallmark symptoms can ensure treatment before more serious health problems develop.