Coping with an elderly person can come with plenty of challenges. Urinary tract infections ( often referred to as a UTI) tend to be one of them. And a chronic UTI can also be a challenge to cope with for a carer and the individual.
Made worse, if the person has memory loss or dementia, it can be difficult to control if they forget or refuse their medication. Certain antibiotics can also interfere with other medications people may be taking.
Older people can be more susceptible to UTIs if they have other conditions. These include:
- Kidney stones
- Urine retention
- Urinary incontinence
- A urinary catheter
- Bowel incontinence
- Enlarged prostate
- Surgery around the bladder
Infections and bacteria can get into their system in a variety of ways. As we age our immune system is weaker. It becomes more difficult to fight off infections.
What Are the Signs of a UTI?
Typical signs of a UTI can be strong smelling or looking urine. The need to urinate often, cloudy urine or pain when urinating. Blood in the urine, night sweats, and even a lowgrade fever can also be signs of a UTI. However, in the elderly, these typical UTI symptoms may not be present at all.
Commonly an elderly person will present symptoms that mirror those of memory loss or early dementia. Things like behavior changes, falling or dizziness, agitation, and confusion.
Who Is At High Risk of a UTI?
People with incontinence are at higher risk from the incontinent protective clothing they wear. Women more so than men. And seniors suffering from dehydration are also prone to developing a UTI.
Natural Solutions and Prevention for a UTI
Try to keep the person hydrated. Plenty of water throughout the day will help.
You can set a timer for elderly people or those with dementia for visiting the washroom. It is also bad to hold in the urine for too long.
Women should always wipe back to front after urination. This will help stop bacteria from getting into the urinary tract.
Use natural cotton underwear when possible and keep their undercarriage dry and clean. If they use inconvenient pants, change them as soon as they are soiled.
Be aware of certain soaps, bubble baths, or any type of ‘flavored or scented’ soaps or body washes. Check for soaps that have no dye or added scents.
Can Cranberry Juice Prevent a UTI?
Cranberry Juice can help. It contains antioxidants, including polyphenols, which have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Furthermore, It also seems to keep E. coli cells from attaching to cells in the urinary tract. However, you need to make sure that you drink pure cranberry juice without added sugars.
Consuming probiotics from a group called lactobacilli may help with treating and preventing UTIs. They lower the pH levels in urine. They also hydrogen peroxide in urine, which is a strong antibacterial.
These can be found in certain cheeses, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir. You can also take them in supplement form. There are plenty available.
Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that can help to improve immune system function. It reacts with nitrates in urine to form nitrogen oxides that can kill bacteria.
Vitamin C can also lower the pH of urine, making it less likely that bacteria will grow or even survive.
And It can be found naturally in fruits, juices and can be taken in several different supplement forms. Sometimes supplements can be easier for the elderly or those with dementia.
Some other supplements that might help are
This is a type of sugar that is extracted from cranberries. It has been shown to be effective in treating UTIs and preventing recurrence
Also known as uva-ursi. One study showed that a combination of bearberry leaf, dandelion root, and dandelion leaf decreased UTI from coming back.
Like cranberry juice, cranberry extract works by preventing bacteria from growing on the urinary tract.
Garlic has been also shown to have antimicrobial properties and may be able to block the growth of bacteria to prevent UTIs
If you like garlic, add a bit more to your cooking, as well. Allicin, one of the compounds in garlic, has antimicrobial properties that have proven to be effective at killing E. coli.
It can be difficult and very frustrating to help your loved one fight off UTIs. But taking too many antibiotics are also not good for them. They can have diverse side effects and they can build up a resistance.
Side effects can be anything from bloating and indigestions to vomiting and abdominal pains. If a person is allergic, you will need to find a different solution.
Natural solutions are always better when possible. Antibiotics can also cause other types of fungal infections, cause a rash and other allergic reactions. You don’t need any more problems.
Always contact a medical professional if you think there is a UTI in your elderly loved one. Left untreated, they can become much worse. These infections can travel through the body, infecting other organs along the way.
Try natural solutions for prevention, first. Stopping them from occurring is the most natural solution of all.
Memory care homes have trained and experienced staff to take care of all their needs. Get the peace of mind for the entire family when you trust your loved one to a memory care home.
The staff at Sycamore Creek Ranch is proactive. That means we are not waiting for a problem to arise. Instead, we are actively engaged with each and every resident. And with only 16 residents we can do that! Come for a tour at Sycamore Creek Ranch! See how we can help!