UTI Detection and Prevention in the Elderly


Sudden behavioural changes. Increased confusion. Decrease in appetite. Frequent falls.

What do all of these points have in common? They are some of the more atypical signs that often tell us an elderly person may be experiencing a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Most people are familiar with typical symptoms: frequent urination, burning sensation, and abdominal discomfort. In those with dementia, these more obvious signs may not be so easy to detect.

Why it can be tricky to diagnose a UTI in the elderly

  • Confusion, changes in appetite and balance issues are common in the elderly.
  • Communication impairments can make it difficult for someone to express that they are feeling discomfort.
  • Urinary incontinence and frequent urination are often common as well.

So how can we tell when it is time to consider a UTI?
– Confusion and behavioural changes.
– Change in gait: unsteady when walking.
– Urination more frequent than is typical.
– Decreased appetite lasting a day or more.
– Irritability, mood or behavioural changes.
– Urine with a foul odour and/or dark colour.

If you notice any of these sudden changes in your loved one, consider talking to a health professional about the possibility of an underlying medical explanation such as a UTI.

How can you prevent UTIs in the elderly? The three H’s!
Don’t hold it in!

Regular toileting routines, proper hygiene and adequate hydration can help avoid bacteria build up in the bladder. Some people are more prone to these infections for various reasons and vigilance is important.

Having knowledgeable, well-trained caregivers who know your loved one well can play a key role in preventing and identifying UTIs.

For more information about BethCare and its services, please refer to our website.

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