Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in Older Adults. The classic symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) are burning pain and frequent urination. UTIs may not cause these classic symptoms in older adults. Instead, older adults, especially those with dementia, may experience behavioral symptoms such as confusion.
An untreated UTI can spread to the kidneys, which is a more severe infection. UTIs can also lead to sepsis, which can be fatal. UTIs cause more than half the cases of urosepsis among older adults.
Why are seniors at risk for UTIs? Men and women older than 65 are at greater risk for UTIs. This is because both men and women tend to have more problems emptying their bladder completely as they age, causing bacteria to develop in the urinary system.
This is because as you get older, your immune response changes – it’s part of normal aging. A UTI places stress on the body,” says Dr. Pearson, “and any type of stress, physical or emotional, can cause an older adult to become confused.
Signs of Urinary Tract Infection In some elderly people, mental changes and confusion may be the only signs of a UTI. Older adults with a UTI are more likely to be tired, shaky, and weak and have muscle aches and abdominal pain.
The confusion would last a few days and was often followed by a low-grade fever. Finally, there was a breakthrough when their mother complained of painful urination during one of these odd spells.
You may notice some of the following symptoms start to display in your loved one, signaling a change in mental state. The most important thing to remember about the link between UTI and dementia is that the behavior change is significant and happens fairly quickly, usually over a period of one to two days.
Symptoms of urosepsis include:
UTIs can cause sudden confusion (also known as delirium) in older people and people with dementia. If the person has a sudden and unexplained change in their behaviour, such as increased confusion, agitation, or withdrawal, this may be because of a UTI.
Urinary tract infections can exacerbate dementia symptoms, but a UTI does not necessarily signal dementia or Alzheimer’s. As the Alzheimer’s Society explains, UTIs can cause distressing behavior changes for a person with Alzheimer’s. These changes, referred to as delirium, can develop in as little as one to two days.
If left untreated, a UTI can lead to acute or chronic kidney infections, which could permanently damage these vital organs and even lead to kidney failure. UTIs are also a leading cause of sepsis, an extreme and potentially life-threatening bodily response to an infection.
A silent UTI is just like a regular UTI, only without the typical symptoms that prove our immune system is fighting off the infection. That’s why those with weaker immune systems, especially the elderly, are more prone to silent UTIs. Urinary tract infections are risky to begin with.
Several infections have been identified as possible stroke triggers, with urinary tract infections showing the strongest link with ischemic stroke. Healthcare providers need to be aware that stroke can be triggered by infections, researchers noted.
Fatigue is a generic symptom that you may not associate with a UTI, but it’s a classic sign of an infection. Many women experience fatigue before other symptoms of a UTI appear.
When a UTI occurs, the infection can cause low blood pressure which can result in dizziness or a feeling of being lightheaded. Severe infections can also cause weak muscles, leading to an inability to stand without assistance.