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Urinary Tract Infections And Senior Care In Assisted Living Facilities

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When a senior citizen lives in an assisted living facility, it is because they can no longer care for themselves and require specialized senior care by professionals. As can be expected, just because their physical, mental, and medical needs are being met, doesn't mean their health won't continue to decline.

Many are in assisted living because they have a form of dementia which eventually renders self-care, such as feeding and toileting, impossible. No longer having control over their bladder and bowel requires the use of adult briefs and other products used to clean their skin. Unfortunately, incontinence can lead to urinary tract infections, which aren't always recognized by both the patient and the staff. Here is a look at how a urinary tract infection can manifest itself in the elderly.

Why May A Urinary Tract Infection Not Be Recognized?

It isn't due to neglect on the part of caregivers that a urinary tract infection goes unnoticed. In fact, a urinary tract infection is one of the most common diagnoses among elderly patients in assisted care facilities. An infection can go unnoticed primarily because the symptoms can be different than in a younger person and many patients are no longer verbal. They aren't able to articulate something isn't right with their body.

Additionally, there aren't any obvious outward signs for mild urinary tract infections. A caregiver can clearly see if a wound isn't healing or becomes infected. An infection of the urinary tract cannot be visually seen until it becomes more severe.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Urinary Tract Infection In The Elderly?

Burning when urinating is a typical symptom, as is increased urinary frequency coupled with decreased output. However, in an institutionalized setting, these things aren't likely to be noticed right away if the patient is no longer verbally communicative. While it is common for the urine to be cloudy or have a stronger odor than usual in younger people, these aren't common symptoms in elderly people. A urinary tract infection is often not suspected until there are signs of blood in the urine. 

Caregivers may notice other symptoms that aren't directly related to the function of the urinary tract, however. It isn't uncommon for a patient with an underlying bacterial infection to have worsening dementia. They may also be more likely to fall if they are still ambulatory. Visiting family members and friends may also notice behavioral differences and should alert the staff of their concerns.

How Are Urinary Tract Infections Treated In The Elderly Population?

As urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria, they must be treated with antibiotics. Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole is usually the drug of choice, but many elderly people have become resistant to this or other drugs. They may need to be treated for more than one course to clear the infection completely.

For more information, contact a company like helping hands for seniors.