Common infections like influenza and UTI can happen to anyone. However, for senior over 65 with a weakened immune system, these illnesses can be complicated to diagnose, leading to long-term poor health, ongoing discomfort and a higher risk of hospitalization.
Although elders are more vulnerable to infection overall, elders with dementia, diabetes or long-term care may be at even greater risk. For elderly care, it’s essential to know about the most common infections in the elders and their often-elusive signs and symptoms.
The range of infections that possess severe risks for the elderly is extremely high and includes the following:
Changes to aging skin and its ability to heal and resist disease mean that skin infections become much more common as age takes its toll. These include:
- Bacterial or fungal foot infections (which can be more common in those with diabetes)
- Drug-resistant infections like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
- Viral infections like herpes zoster (shingles) and pressure ulcers
Stay alert to any unusual itching, lesions or pain, and seek treatment if your loved one is in discomfort. Most skin infections are treatable, and shingles are preventable with a simple vaccine. Ward off other skin infections by practicing good hygiene, such as proper hand washing, particularly if your loved one lives in an elder care community.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the most common bacterial infection in the elderly. Using catheters for conditions like diabetes can increase the risk of UTIs in the elderly. Behaviour changes, like confusion, worsening of dementia, or the onset of urinary incontinence, are typical warning signs. However, pain or discomfort doesn’t necessarily occur with UTIs in elders.
If you suspect a UTI, a doctor can conduct a urinalysis or further testing to confirm the diagnosis. The doctor can then prescribe antibiotics if required. In addition, the home attendant or home nurse should make sure that the patient is drinking plenty of water to help prevent UTIs.
Influenza and pneumonia combined are the sixth leading cause of death in America — 90% of which occur in elders (AAFP). Weakened immunity in the elderly and other chronic conditions increase the risk of developing severe complications from influenza, such as pneumonia. Because influenza is easily transmitted by coughing and sneezing, the risk of infection increases in a closed environment like a nursing home.
Chills, cough and fever are common symptoms, though influenza may present different signs in elders. Annual flu vaccinations are usually recommended for elders to prevent infection, but a physician may prescribe antiviral medications to reduce symptoms for those already infected.
Age-related changes to digestion and gastrointestinal flora put elders at an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal infections. Two of the most common are Helicobacter pylori, which may cause fever, nausea and upper abdominal pain and lead to long-term illness such as gastritis, and Clostridium difficult, an increasingly common diarrhea-causing infection, which usually occurs due to antibiotic treatments that suppress healthy gastrointestinal flora.
Both illnesses are more common in long-term care facilities. While H. pylori is treated using a combination of drug therapies, complex treatment involves halting the antibiotic causing the problem.
Pneumococcal disease has long been recognized as an essential risk factor for the elderly. This category includes pneumonia, bronchitis, bacteremia, and meningitis caused by any of the 83 serotypes of Streptococcus pneumoniae. Although pneumococcal pneumonia is the most common form of community-acquired pneumonia in the elderly, the elders are at greater risk for pneumonia for various reasons, like changes in lung capacity, increased exposure to disease in community settings, and increased vulnerability due to co-morbidities like cardiopulmonary disease or diabetes.
Pneumonia symptoms like cough, chills, and fever are less frequent in the elderly. However, non-respiratory symptoms like confusion or delirium are more common. Doctors usually prescribe antibiotic treatment for bacterial pneumonia. Pneumococcal vaccine can effectively prevent pneumonia, which is highly advised for nursing home habitats.
What Measure Should Caregivers Take for Prevention?
First, interventions support the caregivers, directly reducing distress and the overall impact on their health and well-being.
“ProTribe: Elevating Elderly Care to the Next Level”
ProTribe is a reputable provider of comprehensive elderly care services for seniors in the Delhi NCR region of India. Our offerings include smart solutions for in-home care, as well as specialized care for elders residing in assisted living communities, encompassing long-term care, memory care and various other areas of consideration.
We are proud to have a team of highly trained, certified, and reliable home care attendants who are dedicated to ensuring the well-being of our clients. These attendants maintain regular communication with a Wellness Coach and other caregivers, ensuring that all parties are informed of the senior’s health status. Our team is available around the clock, working tirelessly to empower seniors through empathy, guidance, and overall well-being.
Our home care attendants are equipped to assist elders in preventing infections, such as influenza and UTI, through the following means:
- Assisting with personal hygiene, including bathing, brushing teeth, and handwashing.
- Monitoring health status to detect and prevent the spread of infections.
- Administering timely medication and treatment to help seniors stay healthy and prevent the onset of infections.
- Assisting with mobility to reduce the risk of infection.
Coordinating with community resources, such as doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, to ensure elders receive the best possible care and support. Our SmartWellness Program is designed to reduce risks further, enable lifestyle changes, and promote self-directed management for comprehensive disease management and overall well-being. In addition, this program allows for new symptoms to be addressed on time through quicker consultations with healthcare providers.
Our proven track record of success reflects our commitment to delivering positive clinical, operational, and business outcomes. We specialise in providing high-quality care that helps our elderly clients live healthier and happier lives.
“We are dedicated to ensuring seniors’ health, safety and overall well-being. With ProTribe, seniors can enjoy a comfortable and secure life in the comfort of their own homes known as home nursing services or assisted living communities.”