ALERT – the symptoms of urinary tract infections in seniors can be totally different than those of younger sufferers. Most of us have experienced the painful burning and pain that occurs when we get a bladder infection. As we age, the body’s response changes. Rather than discomfort, the elderly may become confused, hallucinate, dizzy or exhibit other sudden behavior changes. Even more disturbing – untreated infections could eventually lead to kidney failure or life-threatening blood infection.
Be sure to remind your parents or other older loved ones to drink lots of fluids and include cranberry juice or tablets in their diet (unless they are subject to kidney stones). Be specific about the amount they need, as my mother, who ended up hospitalized for dehydration, thinks a cup of tea twice a day is plenty of liquid. I had to explain that we were talking about a minimum of two quarts and actually gave her an empty half gallon container so she could visualize or measure the correct amount. Also, a gentle reminder of basic hygienic measures, such as wiping from front to back, may be in order.
The elderly, particularly those 80 years old and over, are much more susceptible to these types of infections. Women have a much higher percentage rate than men. Be aware of the symptoms and risks.