Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Most Common Infections in Seniors

While various types of infections can happen to anyone, as your senior ages and their body changes, they become more at risk for these kinds of illnesses. In order to preserve your elderly loved one’s good health, it’s important to understand the kinds of infections to which they are most susceptible. Senior health experts explain that the following infections are commonly seen in elderly people:

Urinary Tract Infections

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) states that urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the most common bacterial infection in seniors. UTI risks are heightened for seniors who must use catheters. While your elderly loved one may experience pain or discomfort at the onset of a UTI, the infection doesn’t always show itself physically. Look for sudden changes in behavior, or urinary incontinence, too. If you suspect your elderly parent is dealing with a UTI, encourage them to drink plenty of water and see a physician right away.

Skin infections

Skin infections are another common senior health issue. For those who care for elderly loved ones, it’s important to remain aware of these kinds of health issues. The good news is that most skin infections in seniors are highly treatable, though they do require attention from a trained medical professional. To fight off such infections, encourage proper hand washing and make sure that your senior gets a shingles vaccine.

Bacterial pneumonia

The AAFP explains that 60 percent of seniors over 65 are admitted into the hospital as a result of pneumonia. Changes in lung capacity and increased exposure to disease up an elderly individual’s chances of contracting the disease. Understand that fever, chills, and cough often don’t come along with pneumonia in seniors. Instead, be on the lookout for symptoms like weakness, confusion, and delirium. Bacterial pneumonia can often be treated with antibiotics, but it’s important to take action right away.

Gastrointestinal infections

As the body changes with age, a person becomes more at risk for gastrointestinal infections. Two of the most common infections are Helicobacter pylori and Clostridium difficle. Symptoms of these conditions often include nausea, upper abdominal pain, fever, and diarrhea. These infections become increasingly common in long-term care facilities, making vigilance important. 

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