As we age, our bodies tend to work less efficiently and years of wear and tear can make us more prone to certain types of infections. There are several infections that are quite common in the elderly, and here are a few of the common infections and some of the signs you might need to identify.
Older adults are particular in danger when contracting different strains of influenza, and thousands of people die each year from flu-related causes. Doctors typically recommend annual flu shots for older adults and those generally prone to ill health. This can be an excellent option for those who live in an assisted living facility, board and care facility or a skilled nursing facility. Flu symptoms include a dry cough, sore throat, body aches, fatigue, a stuffy or runny nose and often a fever or chills.
2. Urinary Tract Infections
This is actually the most common of bacterial infections among the elderly, and it can be quite uncomfortable; although, you don’t always feel strong symptoms. Incontinence and even changes in behavior can be signs of a UTI, as well as frequent urination, pain while urinating and blood in the urine. The good news is that UTIs are easy to diagnose, and antibiotics generally solve the problem.
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water or cranberry juice
- Avoid caffeinated beverages, soft drinks, and alcohol. They can make UTIs worse.
3. Clostridium difficile
That might sound like a bunch of difficult-to-pronounce words, but it is actually a highly common gastrointestinal infection that causes diarrhea. It is quite common in nursing homes and hospitals, unfortunately, as it is easily spread. Often those with this infection will be isolated in a private hospital or nursing home room to prevent the spread of the infection. Visitors will be asked to wear gloves and gowns during visits and remove these items and wash their hands thoroughly upon leaving. As the patient, make sure your doctors and nurses always wash their hands before and after they care for you. Careful hand-washing and the use of alcohol-based cleansers also can prevent the spread of this infection.
There are two types of pneumonia, bacterial and viral. Bacterial pneumonia is one of the most common reasons why seniors are admitted to the hospital. While you might expect that the symptoms would include coughing and fever, this isn’t always the case. Confusion, even delirium, can be a sign of bacterial pneumonia. Loss of appetite, lethargy and pale skin also can be signs. There are some vaccines available that can help one prevent contraction of certain types of bacterial pneumonia, so consider asking your doctor about whether or not to have a vaccination.
Often these infections create symptoms that mimic dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, which can be very worrying for the patient as well as family. If you are caring for a spouse or parent, or perhaps your loved one currently lives at a skilled nursing facility, assisted living home or board and care facility, be on the lookout for signs of these infections and talk to facility staff and your loved one’s doctor about diagnosis and treatment.
At Care Placement, our goal is to match seniors to the best possible eldercare options in San Diego County or Orange County. We can help you find eldercare solutions that will fit your needs; as well as answer any questions you might have about eldercare in general.