With or without underlying conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, seniors are especially susceptible to infection. It can be difficult for in-home caregivers and doctors to detect infections in the elderly since symptoms like loss of appetite, changes in behavior, incontinence, and moodiness tend be vague. By taking steps to prevent these five common infections in the elderly, however, caregivers can help their senior loved ones remain healthy.
1. Urinary Tract Infections
Considered the most common infection among the elderly, UTIs are characterized by frequent urination, a burning sensation and pelvic pain. Seniors tend to also have some more unusual symptoms with UTIs, including confusion and a worsening of any existing dementia. UTIs are typically treated with antibiotics.
2. Bacterial Pneumonia
The elderly are especially susceptible to developing pneumonia due to a change in lung capacity common with age. Symptoms specific to seniors include general weakness and confusion sometimes combined with a persistent cough and fever. Some forms of pneumonia, which are treated with antibiotics, may be prevented with a pneumococcal vaccine.
3. Skin Infections
Age brings changes to skin that can increase susceptibility to certain skin infections. Any senior who has had chickenpox (99 percent of Americans have had it) has the shingles (herpes zoster) virus, which can be prevented with a vaccination. Bacterial or fungal foot infections are common in seniors with diabetes (often avoided with good hygiene). MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is especially problematic since it’s drug-resistant.
4. Gastrointestinal Infections
Digestive changes increase seniors’ risk of developing gastrointestinal infections. Helicobacter pylori is characterized by upper abdominal pain, fever, and nausea. Clostridium difficile, associated with diarrhea, is sometimes caused by antibiotic treatments for other conditions that can reduce digestive bacteria. Such conditions are often treated with drug therapies.
Weakened immunity combined with chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes make seniors prone to various influenza strains. Symptoms include fever, chills, and general aches. Annual flu shots offer protection against the most common strains. For seniors who already have the flu, antiviral medications can reduce symptoms.
Interested in learning more about promoting elderly health and wellness? Turn to Home Care Assistance, a trusted provider of senior care in Albuquerque. Our mission is to change the way the senior population ages, one client at a time. Through our holistic Balanced Care Method, we help seniors maintain a high-quality lifestyle focused on nutrition, regular exercise, social engagement, and mental stimulation. To learn more, please call 505-798-0800 and speak with a friendly Care Manager.