“Urinary tract infections, as we know from our long time working with elderly, are a very common infection affecting the elderly. The difference is that in the elderly population the symptoms may manifest in ways that mimic other disorders or lead to diagnosis that doesn’t address the primary issue, the UTI,” said Mary Krause Brady RN, Supervising nurse at SafeHarbor HealthCare Services, a family operated, 45 year old Staten Island-based Joint Commission Accredited agency.
The elderly are susceptible due to a lack of hydration. Whether it be a patient with a form of dementia or just the ability or desire to have an adequate intake of fluids, the elderly can develop a UTI yet not experience the same symptoms as a younger individual. They may not have pain or fever but rather are confused or feeling excessively tired.
“We have found that working with the elderly that you can’t look at their symptoms in the same way you would someone half their age,” said Mrs. Brady.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), elderly people are more vulnerable to UTIs for many reasons, not the least of which is their overall susceptibility to all infections due to the suppressed immune system that comes with age and certain age-related conditions.
NIH has cited that younger people tend to empty the bladder completely upon urination, which helps to keep bacteria from accumulating within the bladder. But elderly men and women experience a weakening of the muscles of the bladder, which leads to more urine being retained in the bladder, poor bladder emptying and incontinence, which can lead to UTIs.
UTIs in the elderly are often mistaken as the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s, according to NIH, because symptoms include:
• Confusion, or delirium-like state
• Other behavioral changes
• Poor motor skills or dizziness
We recently had a case where a client presented with increased confusion and had sustained several falls. Diagnosis was delayed because common signs and symptoms such as discomfort on urination and foul smelling urine were not present. After a complete blood work up and vital signs, a urinalysis finally revealed an infection of the urinary tract. A course of antibiotics quickly helped the patient regain her normal mentation and secure mobility.
About Safe Harbor HealthCare Services
Since SafeHarbor’s establishment nearly 45 years ago, this fully licensed by the State of New York and accredited by the Joint Commission on Health Care Organization remains family owned and operated by the founding family of Frank Krause.
Caregivers at SafeHarbor are professionally trained, thoroughly screened, bonded and insured and undergo a complete background check, including fingerprinting under the auspices of the New York State Department of Health. SafeHarbor maintains its credentials by hiring highly qualified and professionally supervised personnel with a team approach which emphasizes total case management and excellent customer service as well as by compliance with agency and governmental regulations.
For information about SafeHarbor call: 718-979-6900.