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Managing Urinary Tract Infections (UTI's) In Older Adults

A nurse speaking to an older adult

Older adults have an overall susceptibility to infections due to a weakening immune system as they age. They are particularly susceptible to urinary tract infections.

Urinary Tract Infections can not only be uncomfortable for the client, but also daunting to the physician to diagnose and treat. They not only have to assess the symptoms but also culture the urine to find out what strain of bacteria is causing the infection and what antibiotics are effective against that particular bacteria. The client is often treated with a broad spectrum antibiotic effective against E. coli, the most common cause of UTI’s, until the culture and sensitivity is back.

Symptoms of UTI's

Symptoms of a UTI may include increased frequency, urgency, burning, or pain with urination, back pain, incontinency, and foul odor of the urine. If an older adult is experiencing these symptoms, they should call their physician immediately. If they are unable to get an appointment, they should request to come by the office and have a specimen submitted for lab testing.

Treatment of UTI's

After the diagnosis of a UTI is confirmed, the older adult will be treated with antibiotics. They should take the antibiotic as ordered, and take all of it until it is finished. If they are unable to tolerate the antibiotic or the side effects, they should call their physician to let them know, and to see if an alternate antibiotic can be ordered. It is also recommended that the senior take a probiotic along with the antibiotic to enhance colon health and prevent diarrhea. Managing a UTI in older adults can be difficult but is made easier by thoroughly following doctor's orders, staying hydrated, and practicing proper toileting guidelines.

Prevention and Management of UTI's in Older Adults

Older adults should be taught good hygiene measures to prevent the development of a UTI. Always drink plenty of fluids to keep the bacteria flushed from the urinary tract, and empty the bladder at the first urge of urination. Seniors should also avoid any beverages or foods that irritate the bladder. They should also avoid tight fitting clothing or undergarments, and wear cotton undergarments. Older adults should be instructed to always wipe from front to back after a bowel movement to prevent bacteria from traveling from the rectum into the urethra.

With these simple measures, older adults cannot only prevent a UTI, but also maintain a healthy urinary tract system! Always communicate with your physician about any concerns you may have.

Written By: CAB Care Manager - Pennelope Nunn


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