Elderly Hydration and Urinary Tract Infections

Hydration & UTI's

The health industry is very aware of how Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) affect the elderly, but until I entered the industry, I had no idea. The indicators to health professions are very different than those that adult-children may see when caring for their elderly loved one. This blog is intended to be a brief view of how UTIs in elderly may manifest differently. In addition, it covers some hydration tips and information to assist with education of the seniors in your life that you tenderly care for.

The symptoms of UTIs that we are familiar with are burning with urination, fatigue, fever, chills, and pain and pressure. More times than not, elderly do not exhibit these symptoms and many times an UTI can go undetected and without physical indications.

According to Marlo Sollitto, a journalist at Agingcare.com, seniors may demonstrate different symptoms that may or may not accompany the common ones we think of such as:

  • Confusion, delirium or hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Other unusual behavioral changes
  • Poor motor skills or loss of coordination
  • Dizziness or falling

As a professional in a senior living community, I watch for “off” behavior or things that are uncharacteristic of residents. With elderly, UTIs symptoms often mimic symptoms of other conditions like dementia or stroke. An elderly parent may claim things are missing or misplaced. He/she may put trash in the laundry or forgetfulness and confusion may simply get worse. The greatest fear is elderly falling due to dizziness caused by an UTI. A fall can cause excessive bruising, skin tears and broken bones, which would create a requirement for a higher level of care which is more expensive. Many times, hydration can be the key.

For seniors, Sollitto recommends 2-4 quarts of water. There are many hydrating options out there, such as sports drinks with electrolytes, infused water (my favorite), and cranberry juice. While coffee, caffeinated tea, wine and beer are indeed fluids, they should not be counted in the fluid count. The biggest complaint I hear is, “then I have to go the bathroom all the time.” Little sips throughout the day tend to help with that and tasty water is more enticing.

In summary, mom or dad may not be losing their minds; a simple doctor visit can solve a big issue. You may be able to make little suggestions to help or find new ways for water to taste good to them. We all desire to keep our loved-ones independent as long as possible and this is one very easy thing to do to try and keep UTIs at bay. If you have questions you can also reach out to your favorite health care professional or call Heatherwood at 208-345-2150.