Although it’s not uncommon to get a urinary tract infection (UTI), they can be quite harmful and dangerous for those aged 65-and-above. Complications that are possible when a senior gets a UTI include bloodstream infections (sepsis) and irreversible kidney damage.

Many aging in place seniors who are the recipients of in-home care also have dementia, making it hard on a caregiver to determine if they have a UTI in the first place. If this sounds familiar, the first step is learning the signs and symptoms of a UTI so you can get your loved one the care they deserve.

Urinary Tract Infection Risk Factors in the Elderly

Contrary to popular belief, UTIs are not just something women get. According to WebMD, these are some UTI risk factors that affect both men and women:

  • Urinary tract abnormalities
  • Blockages in the urinary tract, like kidney stones
  • A suppressed immune system from diabetes, certain medications or other causes
  • Urinary catheter use
  • Incontinence
  • Weakened pelvic and bladder muscles
  • Wearing adult briefs
  • A recent urinary exam or surgery

UTIs are more problematic in women than men due to these additional risk factors:

  • Menopause-related decline in estrogen
  • The female anatomy itself
  • Certain types of birth control

Left untreated, a urinary Tract Infection can cause serious complications, including permanent kidney damage, recurring urinary infections, a narrowing of the urethra and sepsis.

What Are Some Common UTI Symptoms?

The Mayo Clinic online points out several common UTI symptoms that may occur in a senior who still has an immune system that’s functional:

  • Urine that looks dark, bloody or cloudy
  • Pain or burning sensation while urinating
  • Persistent, low-grade fever
  • Pain in the middle of the pelvis (women)
  • Night sweats or chills
  • Strong, persistent urge to urinate
  • Feeling pressure in the lower pelvic region

Complications like dementia or a compromised immune system can make a UTI diagnosis difficult. If you’re caring for an older adult that can’t communicate very well about how they’re feeling and you suspect they have an infection, look for additional signs like:

  • Dizziness or frequent falls
  • Poor motor skills or lack of coordination
  • Confusion or acting delirious
  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Other unusual behaviors

If a UTI is likely, promptly get your loved one to a doctor so that they can perform a complete exam and order the necess